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Russo-Japanese Relations, 1697-1875 






New York 

Copyright © 1959 by George Alexander Lensen 

Reprinted 1971 
by special arrangement with George Alexander Lensen 


A Division of Farrar, Straus & Giroux, Inc. 

19 Union Square West 

New York, N. Y. 10003 

Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 75-120640 

Printed in U.S.A. by 

noble offset printers, inc. 

new york 3, n. y. 







p^r^lHE history of the Far East in the twentieth century has been 
^'l^ conditioned to a considerable degree by the struggle of 

X Russia and Japan for the mastery of Northeast Asia. This 
Russo-Japanese struggle has often caused bitter rivalry and 
warfare between the two powers, but from time to time attempts 
have also been made to eliminate this hostility by a merger of military 
resources and to advance Russian and Japanese ambitions in the 
Far East by mutual aid. In our own day studies of the Russo-Japanese 
War, of the fishery disputes, the Siberian intervention, the frontier 
clashes of the 1930's, and of the political and territorial differences 
in the years since World War II, have left the impression of an 
"historical enmity" between Russia and Japan. Yet in the years 
between 1905 and 1917 the two countries allied their efforts, and 
there were men in Japan who wished to do so again on the very eve 
of the Soviet Union's entry into the Pacific phase of the Second 
World War. As late as June, 1945 — only two months before Russia 
plunged into the Far Eastern holocaust — a former prime minister of 
Japan and one-time ambassador to Moscow told the Soviet ambassa- 
dor that "if the Soviet Army and the Japanese Navy were to join 
forces, Japan and the Soviet Union together would become the 
strongest powers in the world." 

The Japanese attitude toward Russia today cannot be understood 
solely in terms of political and economic ideology. It has been shaped 
by centuries of intercourse between Russians and Japanese, dating 
back to 1697, the year of the first recorded encounter of a Japanese cast- 
away and a Russian explorer. What were some of the lasting "first 
impressions" made by the Japanese and the Russians on each other? 
What was the nature of Russian pressure on Japan? Did a flourishing 
trade with Russia materialize after the opening of Japan or were 
Russian pleas for trade merely a cloak for more sinister designs? By 
whom was Russian policy toward Japan determined and how con- 
sistent was this policy over the years? Questions such as these sug- 
gested the need for a detailed narrative of early Russo-Japanese 
relations prior to a survey of dealings in the modern period. 

Russo-Japanese relations fall quite naturally into two major histori- 
cal parts, with 1875, the year in which Russia obtained the cession 
of southern Sakhalin in exchange for Russian claims to the northern 



Kuril Islands, as the breaking point. The relations from 1697 to 1875, 
with which this volume deals, form a logical unit, revolving primarily 
around two Russian objectives: the establishment of commercial and 
diplomatic relations with Japan and the delineation of a Russo- 
Japanese frontier. After 1875 considerations of a different nature fix 
the attention, and Russo-Japanese relations, with their extension to 
the Asiatic mainland, become a more integral part of Far Eastern 
international relations as a whole. (I plan to deal with the period 
from 1875 to the present in a second volume.) Yet Japan's loss of her 
empire and the interruption of her normal commercial and diplo- 
matic relations with Russia at the end of World War II seem to have 
turned the clock of Russo-Japanese relations back to the years 
before 1875. 

The story of the Russian push toward Japan is one of high adven- 
ture, created by the ambitions and initiative of individuals. It should 
be of interest not only to the specialist, acquainted with Japanese 
and Russian, but to the general reader of historical literature. I have 
thought it advisable, therefore, to convert Russian and Japanese 
ranks and titles into their nearest English language equivalent, 
shunning such transliterations as probirnykh del master, kapitan 2-go 
ranga, and "Ise-no-kami" in favor of "pharmaceutist," "commander," 
and "Lord of Ise." In this way the general reader should not be over- 
burdened by relatively unimportant terminology and additional foot- 
notes; as for the specialist, I trust he will have no difficulty in recon- 
verting the ranks and titles to the original, if he so desires, and will 
not be hampered in the correct pronunciation of Japanese names by 
the absence of diacritical marks. Similarly I have tried to give greater 
simplicity and order to the narrative by converting both Russian and 
Japanese dates to the Gregorian calendar now in general use in the 
West. In the transliteration of Russian words and names I have fol- 
lowed the system used by the Library of Congress, as one most readily 
permitting reconversion to the original spelling. I have deviated from 
this rule in the case of such generally accepted forms as "St. Peters- 
burg" and have dropped the apostrophe indicating a soft sound from 
the names of persons and ships. There were many persons of foreign 
birth or foreign descent in the Russian service. Generally I have given 
their names as they were spelled in Russian. Patronymics have been 
relegated to the Index. In order to reduce the size of this book, foot- 
note citations have been trimmed as much as possible. Full data may 
be found in the bibliography. 



I acknowledge with deep appreciation the inspiration and support 
given me over the years by teachers and friends at Columbia Uni- 
versity, especially Professors Hugh Borton, L. Carrington Goodrich, 
Ryusaku Tsunoda, and Sir George Sansom; the encouragement given 
to me in my research here at the Florida State University by my 
colleagues, notably Professors Weymouth T. Jordan, Charles S. Davis, 
and Werner A. Baum; and the sponsorship of my sojourn in japan 
by the President and faculty of Hokkaido University. I am greatly 
indebted to the kind and constant assistance of helpful librarians 
at the East Asiatic and Butler Libraries of Columbia University, the 
Slavonic division of the New York Public Library, the Japanese and 
Russian collections of the Library of Congress, the Municipal Library 
of Hakodate, the National Diet Library and Toyo Bunko in Japan, 
and the Florida State University. I acknowledge also the stimulating 
and efficient support of Miss R. Miriam Brokaw, Managing Editor 
of the Princeton University Press, the helpful suggestions of the 
anonymous readers consulted by the Press, and the valuable advice 
of Mr. Seroe V. Glad, Historian of the Association of Russian Im- 
perial Naval Officers in America, concerning the most suitable trans- 
lation of Russian naval terms and ranks and the acquisition of some 
of the illustrative material. 

I am profoundly grateful to the United States Educational 
(Fulbright) Commission in Japan, the Social Science Research Coun- 
cil, the Penrose Fund of the American Philosophical Society, and 
the Research Council of the Florida State University for financial 
assistance in the writing of this book. Publication itself was made 
possible by the generous help of the Ford Foundation and the Sub- 
committee on Grants of the Joint Committee on Slavic Studies of the 
American Council of Learned Societies and the Social Science 
Research Council. Needless to say, the ideas, conclusions, and pos- 
sible errors in this book are solely my own responsibility. 

Permission to quote copyrighted material is gratefully acknowl- 
edged to publishers as follows: Oxford University Press, Select Docu- 
ments on Japanese Foreign Policy 1853-1868 by W. G. Beasley 
(London, 1955); Grove Press, The Japanese Discovery of Europe. 
Honda Toshiaki and other Discoverers 1720-1798 by Donald Keene 
(New York, 1954); Fleming H. Revell Co., A History of Christianity 
in Japan by Otis Cary (New York, 1909); American Baptist Publica- 
tion Society (Judson Press), Christianity in Modern Japan by Ernest 
W. Clement (Philadelphia, 1905). The University of Florida Press 



has graciously permitted reuse of material covered by me in Russia's 
Japan Expedition of 1S52 to 1S55 (Gainesville, 1955). I am grateful 
to the American Press for permission to use the map of "Russian 
Activity in Alaska," an AP Newsfeature dated June 17, 1958. 


Tallahassee, Florida 
February 1959 




Japan closes her door 3 

Deshima 9 

Russia pushes east 14 

Tidings of Japan 22 


By dogsled and bidarka 31 

To the shores of Japan 40 


Kurilian interlude 61 

A mysterious warning 71 

A secret voyage 84 


Kodayu and Laxman 96 

The Nagasaki Permit 1 1 1 


Of pride and profit 121 

The ambassador's revenge 158 


The great debate 177 

The trap 196 


A friendly go-between 223 

A gilded cage 246 


Another private effort 257 

The occupation of Sakhalin 271 


The first Putiatin expedition, 1852-1855 308 
The second Putiatin expedition, 1858-1859 344 




In Nagasaki 355 

In Kanagawa 369 

In Hakodate 388 


The Orthodox Church in Japan 400 

Commercial relations 417 



The Sakhalin Question 425 


Turning point in Russo-Japanese relations 447 

Looking back 465 

appendices: treaties and agreements 473 

bibliography 5°7 

INDEX 539 



(Following page 208) 

Ermak's Conquest o£ Siberia 

(From the painting of V. I. Surikov, reproduced in Vserossiiskaia Aka- 
demiia Khudozhestva, V. I. Surikov, Pokorenie Sibiri, Leningrad, 1940) 

Mission of the Russian Ambassador E. Ysbrants Ides to China (1693) 
(E. Ysbrants Ides, Three Years Travels from Moscow Overland to China, 
London, 1706) 

Kodayu and Isokichi 

(S. I. Novakovskii, Iaponiia i Rossiia, Tokyo, 1918) 

Mamiya Rinzo 

(Courtesy of Mr. Akaba Eiichi [Sozo]) 

Nikolai Rezanov 

(Otsuki Gentaku, Kankai ibun) 

First Visit of Japanese Officials to the Nadezhda 

(Captain Krusenstern, Atlas zur Reise urn die Welt . . . , St. Petersburg, 1814) 

Residence of Rezanov at Megasaki 

(G. H. von Langsdorff, Voyages and Travels in Various Parts of the World, 

London, 1813) 
Procession of Rezanov to the Conference Building 

(Langsdorff, op.cit.) 
Clash of Khvostov and Davydov with the Ainu 

(Novakovskii, op.cit.) 

Grigorii Shelikhov 

(P. Tikhmenev, Istoricheskoe obozrenie obrazovaniia Rossisko-Amerikanskoi 
Kompanii, St. Petersburg, 1861) 

Nikolai Rezanov 

(Tikhmenev, op.cit.) 

Vasilii Golovnin 

(Courtesy of Mr. Serge Glad) 

Petr Rikord 

(Petr I. Rikord, Zapiski Flota Kapitana Rihorda o plavanii ego k iaponskim 
beregam, St. Petersburg, 1875) 

The Capture of Takadaya Kahei 

(Yamashita Saichiro, Takadaya Kahei den, 7) 

Takadaya and Rikord 
(Yamashita, op.cit.) 

Negotiations between Rikord and the Japanese 
(Yamashita, op.cit.) 

Busse's Fortress on Sakhalin 

(Hokkaido-cho, comp., Shinsen Hokkaido-shi, Tokyo, 1937) 

Matsudaira Sadanobu's Poem of Warning 

(From a scroll in the collection of the author) 



Aleksandr Baranov 

(Tikhmenev, op.cit.) 

Genadii Nevelskoi 

(Courtesy of Mr. Glad) 

Nikolai Muravev-Amurskii 

(Ivan Barsukov, Graf Nikolai Nikolaevich Muravev-Amurskii, Moscow, 

Evfimii Putiatin 

(Courtesy of Mr. Glad) 

Evfimii Putiatin 

(From a print by Yoshitora; collection of the author) 

Russian sailor and Chinese admiring Mt. Fuji 

(From a print by Ikkono Yoshimori; collection of the author) 

Russians in Japan 

(From a print by Gountei Sadahidc; collection of the author) 

More Russians in Japan 

(From prints by Ichikawa Yoshika/u, left and center, and Ipposai Yoshifuji, 
right; collection of the author) 

The frigate Diana on the Hakodate roadstead in 1854. 

(Drawing by Lieutenant Aleksandr Mozhaiskii; courtesy Central Naval 
Museum, Leningrad) 

Japanese and Russian boats before a Japanese camp near Osaka. 

(Drawing by Mozhaiskii; courtesy Central Naval Museum, Leningrad) 

Russian boat surrounded by Japanese near Osaka. 

(Drawing by Mozhaiskii; courtesy Central Naval Museum, Leningrad) 

Lieutenant Mozhaiskii sketching Shimoda Bay. 

(Drawing by Mozhaiskii: courtesy Central Naval Museum, Leningrad) 

The Diana during the earthquake at Shimoda. 

(Drawing by Mozhaiskii; courtesy Central Naval Museum, Leningrad) 

Shimoda Bay after the earthquake. 

(Drawing by Mozhaiskii; courtesy Central Naval Museum, Leningrad) 

A Japanese guard post. 

(Drawing by Mozhaiskii; courtesy Central Naval Museum, Leningrad) 

The Japanese plenipotentiaries; (from left to right) Tsutsui, Kawaji, 
Matsumoto, and Koga. Taking notes on the right: Nakamura. 
Kneeling before the plenipotentiaries: (Moriyama) Einosuke. 
(Drawing by Mozhaiskii; courtesy Central Naval Museum, Leningrad) 

Reception of the Takenouchi Mission by Alexander II. 




The Russian Push East 16 

The Expeditions of Poiarkov and Khabarov 20 

Stepping Stones to Japan 24 

The Kuril Archipelago 33 

Early Russian Voyages to the Kuril Islands 

and Japan 37 

Spanberg's Voyage to Japan 51 

The Apocryphal Staaten Eyland and Land of Gama 58 

Nemuro and Akkeshi at the Time of Laxman 103 

Route of Laxman from Matsumae to Hakodate 109 

Russian Activity in Alaska 125 

The Rezanov Embassy to Japan 137 

Rezanov at Nagasaki 141 

The Bay of Deceit, Southern Kunashiri 204 

The Occupation of Sakhalin 276 

Route of the Frigate Pallada 313 

Routes of the Diana, Greta, and Heda 333 




Tn 1542 or thereabouts — the date is not quite certain — the winds 
of fate carried the first Europeans to the shores of Japan. Three 
rfp Portuguese on a Chinese junk were swept by a typhoon across 
JL the East China Sea to Tanegashima, an island south of Kyushu. 
There they were kindly received by the Japanese, whose hospitality 
was exceeded only by admiration for the arquebuses which the 
Portuguese carried. For years thereafter firearms were known in 
Japan as tanegashima. The safe return of the three Portuguese to the 
coast of China with gifts from the Japanese swelled the ambitions of 
their countrymen, who in their imagination pictured the islands 
of Japan as "silver islands" and the people of Japan as raw material 
for the Christian Church; before long a wave of Portuguese traders 
and priests inundated Japan. Like their predecessors they were 
received well, and the Japanese appeared eager for cultural as well 
as commercial intercourse. But these were days when trade was 
overshadowed by piracy, and Christian love by bigotry— days when 
swashbuckling buccaneers manned the frontiers of Western civiliza- 
tion, and "Southern Barbarians" was not an inappropriate term for 
those who visited Japan. The association of firearms with Tanega- 
shima eventually faded, but foreigners, Christianity, and firearms 
remained identified in the public mind as "each and equal members 
of a trinity of terrors." 1 

At mid-sixteenth century Japan was still waist-deep in the morass 
of civil war into which she had sunk toward the end of the fifteenth 
century. She was still in the period labeled by historians "Sengoku": 
The Country at War. Her emperors were powerless and destitute — 
one lay unburied for forty days, while another sold poems to sustain 
himself. The military dictators of the Ashikaga clan, who since 1338 
had dominated court and country, had lost their grip, and local chiefs 
vied with each other for supremacy, while famines and epidemics 
decimated the population. To those who remembered the past, the 
layers of Japanese society gave the appearance of having been turned 
over with a gigantic plow. The old aristocracy had all but sunk out 
of sight, while men of low birth and high ability had been thrust to 

i William Elliot Griffis, The Mikado's Empire, I, 248. 



the surface. Untrammeled by tradition, these men accepted new 
ideas and methods it only they promised sticcess. Despite the ravage 
of civil war Japan remained intellectually alert. The foreigners with 
their new weapons, their promises of wealth, and their new religion 
were welcome. 

For nine decades after the arrival of the first Portuguese — through- 
out Japan's "Christian Century" — Jesuit, Franciscan, Dominican, 
and Augustinian missionaries propagated the "tried and tested true 
Catholic doctrine" with less hindrance from the Japanese than from 
their own limited knowledge of the Japanese language. Converts 
numbered in the hundreds of thousands. Buddhism envisaged a 
lengthy chain of rebirths after death; the new faith promised paradise 
upon death. At the same time the new faith did not appear excessively 
different. Indeed it seemed at first merely another sect of Buddhism, 
for not only did the Jesuit fathers pattern themselves in dress and 
manners after Zen priests — the intellectual and social elite of the 
Buddhist clergy — but there was a resemblance in the outward trap- 
pings of Catholicism and Buddhism. As one historian has observed: 

The very idols of Buddha served, after a little alteration with the chisel, 
for images of Christ. The Buddhist saints were easily transformed into the 
Twelve Apostles. The Cross took the place of the torii. It was emblazoned 
on the helmets and banners of warriors, and embroidered on their breasts. 
The Japanese soldiers went forth to battle like Christian crusaders. In the 
roadside shrine Kuanon, the Goddess of Mercy, made way for the Virgin, 
the mother of God. Buddhism was beaten with its own weapons. Its own 
artillery was turned against it. Nearly all the Christian churches were 
native temples, sprinkled and purified. The same bells, whose boom had 
so often quivered the air announcing the orisons and matins of paganism, 
was again blessed and sprinkled, and called the same hearers to mass and 
confession; the same lavatory that fronted the temple served for holy-water 
or baptismal font; the same censer that swung before Amida could be 
refilled to waft Christian incense; the new convert could use unchanged 
his old beads, bells, candles, incense, and all the paraphernalia of his old 
faith in celebration of the new. 2 

The "spiritualism" of the East is often exalted at the expense of 
the "materialism" of the West. Yet it is the materialism of the West 
which has struck the greatest rapport in the Far East. The Japanese 
have invariably shown more interest in the material and institutional 
products of foreign civilizations than in the underlying philosophical 

2 Ibid., i, 252; Charles R. Boxer, The Christian Century in Japan, 78, 320-321; P. 
Emil Naberfeld, Grundriss der Japanischen Geschichte, 97. 



theories. Buddhism was introduced into Japan originally more for 
political and material than for religious reasons. Christianity likewise 
was welcomed less for its own sake than as a vehicle of commerce, 
military strength, and political utility. When Oda Nobunaga actively 
supported Christianity, while razing Buddhist strongholds to the 
ground, he did so as a tactical rather than spiritual move, making- 
use of Christianity as a counterweight to the influence of Buddhism. 
When local lords extended their welcome to the missionaries, they 
extended it in fact to the traders; they craved arquebuses more than 
Holy Scriptures. This association of firearms and other Western 
products with Christianity was both the strength and weakness of 
the Church. It made possible the introduction of Christianity to 
Japan; yet it resulted also in its expulsion. 

By the seventeenth century Japan emerged from the period of 
civil war unified by the genius of three warriors: Oda Nobunaga, 
Toyotomi Hideyoshi, and Tokugawa Ieyasu. Once again, and more 
effectively than ever, Japan was to be ruled by a military central 
government. But her leaders, still insecure and suspicious, guarded 
against conspiracy from any quarter. 

Christianity was not confined to the poor and weak. When Japanese 
forces overran Korea in the 1590's in a bid for mastery of the Far 
East, Christian officers and troops formed one of the spearheads. 
These officers, as well as Christian leaders elsewhere, were a potential 
menace to the Japanese polity. By its very nature Christianity was 
politically subversive, infringing on the demands of the totalitarian 
state. Nor did the missionaries simply withhold from Caesar what 
was not Caesar's; they encroached on Caesar's domain and sought to 
guide the political consciences of their flock. Increasingly the resem- 
blance between Christianity and Buddhism faded. Confident of their 
foothold in Japan, the fathers unveiled the less seemly attributes of 
seventeenth century Catholicism: fanatical intolerance, the Inquisi- 
tion, conversion by the sword, and political intrigue. 

The Japanese were disappointed in the returns of foreign trade 
and feared lest the potentially hostile feudal lords on the outskirts 
of the empire unduly strengthen their power by the acquisition of 
Western firearms. They were aware of the political machinations of 
the Catholic fathers and listened with interest to the advice of English 
and Dutch Protestants who eagerly reported how their kings dealt 
with Papists. They were shocked by the flagrant European traffic in 
Japanese slaves who in poverty-stricken Japan cost so little that even 


the Negro and Malay servants of the Portuguese speculated in them. 
They were disgusted with the endless murderous brawls among the 
low foreign adventurers who resorted at the Japanese sea ports — 
murderous brawls which cast suspicion on the sincerity of Christian 
professions. When eventually a serious rebellion, replete with Chris- 
tian banners and slogans, confronted the leaders of Japan, it appeared 
to them only desirable to bring down the curtain on intercourse with 
the Christian world. 

In Japan, as in England, the persecution of Catholicism was essen- 
tially political, but not without romantic overtones. Like Henry VIII, 
Toyotomi Hideyoshi found one consort insufficient. He had been 
married six times and had a harem, which a procurer sought to round 
out for him by the addition of some Christian girls. The procurer 
was turned down so contemptuously that Toyotomi was enraged. In 
the middle of the night he directed five questions to the startled 
Jesuits: Why did they force the Japanese to become Christians? Why 
did they make their followers destroy the temples? Why did they 
persecute the Buddhist priests? Why did they violate Japanese cus- 
toms by eating meat? Who had given the Portuguese permission to 
buy Japanese and carry them as slaves to India? When the fathers 
failed to counter these semi-rhetorical questions to his satisfaction, 
Toyotomi ordered the following morning (July 25, 1587) that they 
leave the country within twenty days. 3 

The fathers did not respect Toyotomi's commands, nor the com- 
mands of his successors, and went on with their preaching. When 
the Japanese authorities would bodily place them on a ship and 
deport them, they would merely return in disguise. In desperation 
the Japanese resorted to stronger measures, first against the native 
converts, then against the foreign missionaries. The threat of torture 
and execution did not deter the fathers. With renewed determination, 
indeed with hope and spiritual longing, they chose the path to 
martyrdom, bolstered as they faced torture by the exhortations of a 
special manual which circulated among the faithful: 

Hope and confidence should occupy your mind, since at that moment 
God shall tender a special help. And if possible utter anything which 
would benefit the soul of the bystanders. Say, for instance, "There is no 
way besides the religion of Christ which can save you in the future life. 
I am now going to sacrifice my life as a testimony to the truth of this 

s Otis Cary, A History of Christianity in Japan, i, 105-106. 


religion. There is no joy greater than this, because this is the way to 
infinite bliss." 4 

At first the Japanese authorities seemed reluctant to deal as rudely 
with the foreigners as with their own countrymen. Even when death 
was adjudged the penalty, the fathers were treated as men of honor 
and distinction in that they were offered the privilege of disem- 
bowelling themselves. But with time the fate of foreign and Christian 
martyrs rushed together in the same torrent of blood, and burning 
alive became the standard form of punishment for missionaries and 
converts alike. This ghastly business was performed with greater 
ingenuity than in Europe, where contemporary martyrs were fastened 
tight to the pole, with faggots at the base. In Japan the faggots ringed 
the stake at a radius of several feet while the victim was attached 
only by the wrist, free to amuse the morbid crowd as he jumped 
about in ludicrous agony. 

No less ingenuity was displayed by Japanese inquisitors as they 
sought to sway the faith of the Christian converts by torture. Among 
the mildest of their grisly methods was the so-called water torture. 
The martyr was hung upside down and revolved slowly with his 
head in a bucket of water filled to a level above his nostrils. In 
another version of the water torture he would be tied down on a 
board— the left hand free to signal recantation— with his head hang- 
ing down, while the inquisitors continued to pour an incessant 
stream of water on his face as he desperately gasped for air. Other 
victims would be taken to sulphur springs, where boiling water was 
slowly poured into incisions made in their flesh. Still the believers 
clung to their faith and measures became increasingly gruesome until 
by 1632 hanging in the pit had displaced most other forms of ultimate 
punishment. Tightly bound around the body as high as the breast, 
with the forehead lightly slashed to give some vent for the blood, and 
with one hand as usual left free to indicate recantation, the victims 
were hung head downwards from a gallows into a pit filled with 
excreta and other filth. Most of the martyrs expired after a day or 
two, but some lived for more than a week. 

Anti-Christian in expression, the drive to eliminate foreign thought 
and influence extended eventually to merchants as well, and led to 
a series of decrees which all but terminated Japan's intercourse with 
the West. The last and most comprehensive of these was the edict 
of June 1636. Addressed to the joint governors of Nagasaki by the 

4 Boxer, 354. 


lour great councilors of the empire, it prohibited the departure of 
any Japanese vessel tor a foreign country and forbade on pain of 
death any Japanese to go abroad or, it abroad, to return. It provided 
for the deportation of any foreign offspring and its foster parents and 
called tor the continued ferreting out of Christian missionaries and 
native converts, ottering two hundred to three hundred pieces of 
silver for information leading to the discovery of a Jesuit, while 
threatening with arrest any foreigner who aided the priests." 

In 1624 tIie English had left Japan of their own volition. The 
following year the Spaniards were expelled. Now with the edict of 
1636 the door of Japan was almost closed. Then came the Christian 
rebellion of 1637 and the Portuguese seemed implicated. In 1638 
they too were expelled. The door was shut. 

The "Christian Century" failed to leave a positive imprint on the 
face of Japanese history. Barren were the fruits of Christian endeavor 
and suffering. All that Japan had inherited from nearly a hundred 
years of contact with the West were firearms, smoking tobacco, sponge 
cake, foreign words, venereal disease, and "the permanent addition to 
that catalogue of terrors which priest and magistrate in Asiatic coun- 
tries ever hold as weapons to overawe the herd." 6 No one in Japan 
was to look back to the "Christian Century" with sentiment. Its 
memory formed a hurdle to the resumption of relations with the 
West. Portuguese vessels which arrived in 1639 were turned back 
with a copy of the prohibition of 1638. When the traders of Macao 
persisted further and in 1640 dispatched a mission to confer with 
the Japanese, the latter calmly beheaded the four envoys and fifty- 
seven of their companions and burned their vessel. Only thirteen 
men of low rank were spared to take back word of Japan's determina- 
tion to be left alone. Near the places where the Portuguese heads 
lay exposed, tablets were erected to announce the error of their 
ways. One proclaimed: 

So long as the sun warms the earth, let no Christian be so bold as to come 
to Japan; and let all know that if the King of Spain, or the Christians' 
God, or the great God of all violate this command, he shall pay for it 
with his head. 7 

5 Ibid., 353, 439-440. 

e Griffis, 1, 258-259. 

i Cary, History, 1, 231 footnote; Richard Hildreth, Japan as It Was and Is, 1, 192. 



Japan had closed her door. Yet there was a barred cell-like window 
through which glimpses of the world could be espied. This window 
was Deshima, a fan-shaped little island, artificially constructed off 
Nagasaki in 1641, on which the Dutch, who had followed to Japan 
in the 1580's, were suffered to retain a precarious foothold through- 
out the seclusion period. Shrewd traders that they were, the Dutch 
had deflected the wrath of the inquisitors to their Catholic competi- 
tors, had hidden, if not denied, their own Christianity, and had 
proffered their services to the Japanese with humility. As Maurice 
of Nassau had written in a letter presented to Tokugawa Ieyasu 
in 1612: 

. . . And the intentions of the Spanish and Portuguese are difficult to 
understand because they are hidden deep in the minds of the Padres who 
reveal nothing, and this is a matter that you should consider very carefully. 
And the intention of the Padres is to convert all Japan to their faith by 
degrees, and as they hate other religions there is sure to be a struggle 
between the sects and a great disturbance in the country. And then the 
Padres hope to turn matters to their own advantage. 

Now the Dutch who came to your country will do whatever you may 
please to require of them, and consider it a pleasure to do so. And so 
they will continue to do in the future. . . . 8 

The Japanese saw the advantage of a window upon Europe through 
which they could receive whatever foreign goods they might desire 
and, more important, through which they could keep abreast of 
European designs. Every year the Dutch had to submit a report about 
the latest world happenings. Yet for all their usefulness, the Dutch 
were treated without honor or respect, indeed at times like the most 
dangerous of criminals. Their strange existence on Deshima blends 
with the mistrust and fear of Christianity in a historical backdrop 
which throws into greater relief the thoughts and deeds of the leading 
actors on the stage of Russo-Japanese relations. 

Deshima measured only eighty-two common paces in width and 
two hundred and thirty-six in main length, yet it housed a number 
of buildings in which the Dutch lived — wooden two-storied cottages, 
the lower floors of which were used for storage of goods — as well as 
special fireproof warehouses, a kitchen, buildings for the transaction 
of sales, for the accommodation of gubernatorial deputies, for fire 
apparatus, laundry, Japanese guards, interpreters, and so forth. 

s A. L. Sadler, The Maker of Modern Japan, 235. 



When Dutch ships paid their annual visit to the harbor and their 
crews hung about on Deshima for two or three months, the island 
seemed to be bulging at the seams, but upon their departure only 
the factor and several companions remained to keep a lonely vigil. 

They were completely isolated from Japan. A high, roof-covered, 
deal-board fence topped by a double row of pikes hemmed in the 
island, while thirteen large posts erected in the water clearly marked 
the line beyond which no Japanese must trespass. The two strong 
gates which faced the water on the north were never opened except 
when Dutch ships were laden or unladen under strict supervision. 
A small stone bridge joined the island with Nagasaki, but on the 
city side there was a guardhouse and normally the end of the road. 
Even the fire holes for fetching water were nailed shut and the gutters 
which ran into the sea had purposely been made crooked so as to 
forestall any communication with the outside. 

A heavy guard protected Japan from the handful of Dutch. In the 
iGqo's it consisted of a regular gate guard of five men plus servants, 
supported by two ship guards, two spy guards, a servant of the pre- 
siding governor, and a servant of the deputy-governor, not to mention 
six night watchmen and a harbor guard, when no foreign ships were 
in port. When ships arrived the guards were proportionately in- 
creased in number and rank. Meanwhile the Dutch found it necessary 
to post guards of their own to guard against the guards. At all times 
a meticulous hourly record was kept in a journal by the gate guard 
of everyone and everything that passed through the gate, sworn 
searchers seeing to it that nothing slipped through without special 
permission from the governor or chief officer of the street. 9 

There were occasions when the Dutch were permitted to cross the 
bridge to Japan, but they were guarded closely and remained effec- 
tively isolated, being allowed to do little more than thank the Japa- 
nese for their many favors. During the annual pilgrimage of the 
resident of the Dutch East India Company to the capital, he and 
his retinue were treated like prisoners. "We are not suffer'd to speak 
to any body, not even without special leave to the domesticks and 
servants of the Inns we lodge at," one European recalled. "As soon 
as we come to an Inn, we are without delay carried up stairs, if pos- 
sible, or into the back apartments, which have no other view but 
into the yard, which for a still greater security, and to prevent any 

9 Engelbert Kaempfer, The History of Japan, n, 174-184. 



thoughts of an escape, is immediately shut and nail'd up." 10 He noted 
that such a yearly journey of homage to the Japanese ruler was 
required not only of the Dutch but also of native lords and vassals. 
Nor were measures taken by the government at the Deshima guard 
post basically different from the measures taken commonly toward 
its own people at the numerous guard gates along the highways of 
the country. Deshima was a reflection of the model police state which 
the Tokugawa Shogunate had imposed upon Japan. 

The Shogunate, as its Japanese name "Bakufu" or "Tent Govern- 
ment" indicates, was a military dictatorship. The Emperor continued 
as legal sovereign in the ancient capital of Kyoto, while actual power 
was exercised by the Tokugawa Shogun or Generalissimo and his 
advisers from newly founded Edo, the Tokyo or "Eastern Capital" 
of today. Foreigners talked of the spiritual and secular rulers of 
Japan, but as often as not during the Seclusion Period failed to dis- 
tinguish between the two and referred to the Shogun as Emperor, 
a confusion encouraged by officials of the Shogun as they disguised 
his subordinate status by referring to him as "Taikun" (tycoon) 
or Great Lord. 

The political structure of Tokugawa Japan was centralized feudal- 
ism. The Tokugawa family with its various branches and immediate 
vassals owned between a quarter and a fifth of the country's agricul- 
tural land and from it derived its revenue. The remainder of the 
land was in the hands of daimyo or lords, who, though they exercised 
a considerable degree of local autonomy, were vassals of the Shogun, 
and of the daimyo's own followers or samurai, the knights of Japan. 
Socially and economically the Tokugawa masters had stratified the 
population of the country into four classes: warriors, farmers, artisans, 
and merchants. The ruling elite, amounting with its families to about 
one-sixteenth of the population, was a hereditary class of fighters, 
forbidden to pursue any other vocation. Yet with the unification and 
seclusion of Japan the Shogunate thought it dangerous to foster the 
martial spirit of its vassals and the ruling class of Japan became 
increasingly parasitic — forbidden to work, forbidden to fight. The 
paradox of Tokugawa policy which exhorted the military to live 
according to the obligations of Bushido or the "Way of the Warrior/' 
yet at the same time enforced peace and order, is best illustrated by 
the fate of the famous forty-seven ronin (masterless samurai). Their 
lord, humiliated by the Master of Ceremonies, wounded him, and 

10 Ibid., u, 191-192. 



was forced to disembowel himself for drawing the sword in the 
Shogun's palace. The obligations of Bushido demanded revenge and, 
after years of cunning and patience, forty-seven of his former samurai 
cut off the head of the Master of Ceremonies. Theirs was a noble act 
in the light of Bushido, but a country at peace could not tolerate 
vendettas, and so, after considerable deliberation, the forty-seven 
ronin were ordered to commit suicide, becoming at the same time 
national heroes, no less celebrated in democratic Japan today. 

In a police state security becomes an obsession. Tokugawa Japan 
was a police state par excellence. The domains of the feudal lords 
were so reshuffled as to place the most reliable vassals in strategic 
positions throughout the country, one guarding against another. 
Responsibility was always shared: in the sphere of administration 
where decisions were reached by councils and where officials operated 
in pairs constantly watching each other, or on the level of daily 
existence where every five households were grouped together as a 
go-nin-gumi answerable for the crimes of any of its members. The 
national seclusion of Japan was but one aspect of a more general 
policy of security through isolation. The imperial court was isolated 
so that no feudal lords could approach the Emperor except with the 
permission of the Shogun. The Shogunate itself was isolated, above 
the reaches of the people. And most important of all, the feudal 
lords were partially isolated from their own domains and families. 
By the ingenious system of "Alternate Residence" every lord and 
vassal of importance had to spend a stipulated period of time in the 
new capital, maintaining there a residence corresponding to his 
position. The expense of maintaining such a residence year round, 
not to mention the trip to the capital and back with a suitable retinue, 
diminished the economic power of the feudal lord. At the same time 
his periodic absences weakened his hold on his own domain. And 
when he returned to his territories his family had to remain in the 
capital as hostages. Along the various highways leading to and from 
Edo, barrier gates protected the safety of the Shogunate by guarding 
against the smuggling out of hostages or smuggling in of firearms. 
The barrier at Hakone, for example, specialized in the examination 
of women traveling westward. It was manned by twenty officials 
assisted by female inspectors, who examined the bodies and hair of 
women voyagers. Those who sought to avoid the barrier by choosing 
a detour faced death by crucifixion. A notice-board erected at Hakone 
in 1711 instructed all travelers as follows: 



All persons passing through this gate must remove their head-coverings 
(straw hats and "zukin"). The doors of palanquins must be opened on 
entering. Women travellers must be strictly examined in relation to their 
passports, and those riding in carrying chairs must be taken to the lodge 
of the barrier guards for examination. Passports are required for the 
wounded persons, dead bodies or other suspicious burdens. 

Court Officials and Daimyo need not be inspected if they have previ- 
ously given notice of their arrival, but if anything seems suspicious, any 
person, whatever his rank is subject to inspection. 

These rules shall be strictly obeyed. 

1711, 5th month. MAGISTRATE OF THE SHOGUN. 11 

The Tokugawa system which thus carefully enveloped Japan in 
a net of government control, and discouraged initiative and uncon- 
formity by the severity of its punishments, succeeded in perpetuating 
itself for over two and a half centuries. Its greatest contribution was 
to bring to the people of Japan the blessings of prolonged peace. Yet 
its economic and ideological foundations were unsound; in a sense 
the Tokugawa system contained in itself the seeds of its own destruc- 
tion. The power of the Shogunate and its vassals was based on an 
economy of agriculture. Rice was the measure of wealth, the means 
of payment for the services of the samurai. But the institution of 
"Alternate Residence," though it indisputably provided political 
protection, so stimulated commerce as to foster the development of 
a money economy and the concomitant rise to influence of merchants 
and financiers, as well as the growth of an essentially anti-feudal urban 
culture in the capital itself, which by the eighteenth century had 
become the largest city in the world. Meanwhile the Shogunate's 
attempt to deflect the energies of the warriors from military to intel- 
lectual pursuits stimulated the study of Japanese history and the 
ultimate realization that the Shogun was an usurper of imperial 
prerogatives. The efforts of foreigners to reopen Japan were to meet 
with increasing receptiveness as more and more Japanese became 
dissatisfied with the conditions of the day and began to consider 
foreign trade and foreign methods as a possible means of rejuvenating 
Japan. 12 

Among the various schools of learning, which flourished in 
Tokugawa Japan the most interesting in this connection was the 
"Rangaku" or "School of Dutch Learning," which eventually in- 

11 Neil Skene Smith, Materials on Japanese Social and Economic History, 57. 

12 Eijiro Honjo, A Social and Economic History of Japan, 291; see also G. B. Sansom, 
Japan, chapters xxi-xxiii. 



eluded under the same name English, French, and Russian studies. 
With the prohibition of Christianity a ban had been imposed not 
only on Christian literature but on all Western knowledge. As the 
fear of European subversion gradually subsided this ban was modified 
to apply to religious writings only. After 1720, Japanese scholars were 
able to devote themselves to the study of Dutch language, medicine, 
natural science, mathematics, astronomy, and military science. The 
restrictions on the Dutch were relaxed enough to permit them to 
assist the Japanese scholars in their endeavors. Such men as Engelbert 
Kampfer and Philipp Franz von Sicbold (German doctors in the 
Dutch service), Isaac Titsingh, Karl Thunberg and J. L. C. Pompe 
van Merdervoort contributed not only to the Western knowledge of 
Japan but also to Japanese knowledge of the West. Japan had closed 
her door, but Deshima served as a window through which the 
Japanese could peer at the world outside. 13 


The country which first and most persistently sought to reopen 
Japan was Russia, whose explorers in their eastward drive at one 
time spanned the continents of Europe, Asia, and America. The place 
of origin of the Russian people is not certain, but there is general 
agreement that the early Russians entered Russia from the west. They 
pushed northward and eastward into European Russia and continued 
pushing eastward, past the Ural mountains, until the tremendous 
plain that stretches from the Baltic and Black Seas to the Pacific Ocean 
was in their hands. The movement of Russians into Siberia antedates 
even the establishment of the Romanov dynasty (1613). Cossacks 
began pushing into western Siberia during the reign of Ivan the 
Terrible (1533-1584) and before. The attachment of the peasants 
to the soil at the time of Boris Godunov (1598-1605) and additional 
hardships during the "Time of Troubles" (1604-1613) which fol- 
lowed, with the appearance of a pretender to the throne, and the 
death of Boris Godunov, accelerated the eastward migration of Rus- 
sians who sought to escape the privation, bondage, and political 
disorder of their mother country. Some of the Russians settled in the 
familiar regions of western Siberia; others continued to push farther 
east, exploring and subjugating new territories and peoples. Even 
when they reached the Pacific shores they did not stop, but, taking 

is Donald Keene, The Japanese Discovery of Europe, 5-38. 



to the sea, pressed on to the east until by the turn of the nineteenth 
century the Northern Pacific threatened to become a Russian lake. 14 

Propelled primarily by the wealth of peltry in the east, the conti- 
nental expansion of Russia was given direction at once by the natural 
barrier of mountains, deserts, and inland seas which frames the 
Eurasian plain on the South and by the great rivers whose tributaries 
run parallel to this barrier. Led by individuals, it was controlled by 
the government; for the government was the chief fur trader. Fur 
was exacted from the natives as tribute and from the traders and 
trappers as tax. More fur was obtained by purchase, the government 
having first call on the best peltry of its countrymen. At the same 
time the government retained for itself a monopoly on the sale of 
black foxes and sables to China. By the sixteenth and seventeenth 
centuries fur had became Russia's most important single item in 
foreign and domestic commerce, Russian furs being prominent in 
the markets of both Europe and China, and in essence the whole 
problem of the administration of Siberia revolved around the taking 
and giving of fur tribute. 15 

The stimulus which fur gave to the eastward push of Russia is of 
particular interest because this "golden fleece" was a common de- 
nominator of Russian and American expansion. Fur led the Russians 
to the American continent, as it was to lead Americans across their 
own continent to the Pacific shores and beyond. In both cases the 
trade with China was an added incentive. 16 But constructive as the 
thirst for wealth may have been ultimately from a national point of 
view in terms of exploration, conquest, and colonization, it fostered 
not only the subjugation of native peoples, but graft, corruption, 
cruelty, and even open warfare among rival tribute collectors — a fact 
confirmed by the number of Siberian officials sentenced to hang by the 
Russian government. Historians agree concerning the vicious nature 
of the early pioneer day officials. F. A. Golder writes after careful 

14 Prince A. Lobanov-Rostovsky, Russia and Asia, 1-10; N. V. Kiuner, Snosheniia 
Rossii s Dal'nim Vostokom na protiazhenii tsarstvovaniia Doma Romanovykh, 2; S. 
Znamenskii, V poiskakh Iaponii, 5. 

is Lobanov-Rostovsky, 2; Robert J. Kerner, The Urge to the Sea, 84-85; F. A. Golder, 
Russian Expansion on the Pacific, 18. 

is Another somewhat more fanciful common denominator of Russian and American 
expansion might be found in heliotaxis and heliotropism. Sixteenth-century American 
explorers regarded their urge westward as a lure to follow the sun. Funaoka Seigo de- 
velops the theory that the Russians in their expansion eastward were similarly driven 
by the basic human need for sunshine. (Hugh Borton, Japan's Modern Century, 3; 
Funaoka Seigo, Japan im Sternbild Ostasiens, 1, 160-161.) 



Were it not for the fact that the evidence on this point is uncontradictory 
one could hardly believe that these men were as low and as depraved as 
the contemporary literature pictures them. They were without the fear 
of God and without the feelings of shame. They traded, gambled, mort- 
gaged, and sold their wives and daughters as if they were chattel. The 
traffic in women was carried on publicly and from the proceeds of the sale 
the government received ten per cent as it did from the sale of ordinary 
merchandise. Other forms of vice were even less concealed. Although 
aware of this demoralizing state of affairs, the government was not in a 
position to put an end to it because it could not depend on the soldiers, 
who often mutinied and killed their officers, robbed whom they should 
protect, and then fled across the Chinese border and from there carried 
on their depredations. If caught and brought back two or three were 
punished by having their noses cut off and the remainder were reinstated 
in service. 17 

Part of the difficulty was due to the fact that the government in 
Moscow was slow to realize the importance of the Siberian territories. 
But even the establishment of a separate Department of Siberian 
Affairs in Moscow in 1637 and the reorganization of Siberia in 1708 
by Peter the Great on western European standards could not over- 
come the lack of honest administrators. Nor did the appointment of a 
special customs officer (golova) as a check on the chief officer of the 
province (voevoda) inhibit the exactions of the latter, and of his 
family and friends. 

The chief officer continued to shortstop the best furs, to misappro- 
priate part of his subordinates' salaries, and to beat and otherwise 
mistreat the natives. There was little recourse against these depreda- 
tions during the chief officer's period of service, for he himself was 
chief justice of the province, and could readily dispose of any com- 
plaints. This does not mean that the government was unaware of the 
official's misconduct. On the contrary, measures were taken repeatedly 
to prevent the chief officer from bringing back to Russia either 
directly or through others more than the amount of furs and money 
allowed him by law. The customs officers on the Siberian frontier 
were instructed by Moscow to surprise the returning chief officer of 
the province and his party, and to look for smuggled furs "in the 
wagons, trunks, baskets, clothes, beds, pillows, wine barrels, boxes, 
in the baked bread ... to search men and women without fear of any 
one . . . examine their persons, their trousers, and note especially 

17 Golder, Russian Expansion, 19-20, note 8. 


whether the women have skins sewed in their petticoats . . . look sharp 
that they do not get away with any furs." 18 

The art of administering the eastern territories thus boiled down 
to the discovery of the degree to which the natives could be taxed, 
short of inciting them to rebellion or to flight across the Chinese 
border. The policy of the Russian government was moderate and 
the tribute light, the exactions of the local officials illegal and exces- 
sive. They held the natives responsible not only for their own tribute, 
but the tribute of those who had fled or died; and, in competition 
with other tribute collectors, they forced the natives to pay their 
own share more than once. When the natives promised to comply, 
the officials took hostages; when the natives refused to pay, the tribute 
collectors killed the men and divided their women and children 
among their followers. One can readily understand that for many 
natives the tribute became insufferable and they sought recourse and 
revenge in waylaying and killing their oppressors. 1!> 

Neither the government in Moscow nor its Siberian representatives 
can be said to have initiated or planned the push east. Plunder and 
loot sufficed to draw adventurers and freebooters of every sort to the 
regions beyond the restraining arm of government. Cossacks, who 
unlike their settled countrymen formed a kind of military republic 
on the outskirts of the Russian realm and who in their warfare with 
the Tartars had come to adopt their marauding ways, scattered across 
the Asian continent, unconscious of their role as avant coureurs of 
Russian civilization. 20 Eventually the Russian government, seeking 
to secure Moscow from the onslaught of Asian raiders by pushing 
back the frontier and reinforcing it with a chain of forts 21 in what 
might be described as a quest for peace through expansion and 
colonization, made use of the Cossack communities, organizing them 
into special hosts, whose military frontier settlements served at once 
as a source of produce and as cavalry-striking power. 22 

Spearheaded by such men as Ermak Timofeevich, colorful river 
pirate and Don Cossack leader, whose conquest of the Tartar city 

is Ibid., 20-21, note 12. 
is Ibid., 18-24. 

20 Shanghai Mercurv, The Story of Russia and the Far East (hereafter cited as Story), 
5-7; Kiuner, 2. 

21 The Russian fort was known as an ostrog. A rectangular wooden stockade, walled 
in by a second stockade and a moat, it contained a number of buildings, including 
usually living quarters, a granary, a customhouse, and church. (Raymond H. Fisher, 
The Russian Fur Trade, 35.) 

22 Lobanov-Rostovsky, 35-37. 



Sibir and of the Tobolsk region in the early 1580's won him not only 
imperial pardon for his crimes but favor and wealth, Russian adven- 
turers penetrated farther east. In 1587 they founded Tobolsk, in 1596 
Narym, in 1619 Eniseisk, in 1632 Yakutsk. By 1649 tne Y reached the 
Pacific coast at the shores of the Sea of Okhotsk. 23 At times the rigors 
of the Siberian climate tempted some to seek a more southerly route, 
but fierce opposition on the part of Asian tribes gave added meaning 
to the cry of "Eastward Ho!" Once the Pacific barrier had been 
reached the wanderers probed south again. 24 

In 1644 Vasilii Poiarkov penetrated to the Amur River with a 
party of freebooters, hunters, and Cossacks. The success of his expedi- 
tion and the optimism of his report about the riches of the Amur 
region and the weakness of the local tribes triggered other expeditions 
to this area. 25 Thus Erofei Khabarov led a force to the Amur River 
in 1650 and 1651. In part Poiarkov's report proved true. There was 
considerable wealth in the form of tribute and plunder, and the 
natives were weak. But Poiarkov had not foreseen that the natives 
could call for military support on the neighboring Manchus, who by 
now ruled China. And so the excesses of Khabarov set off a generation 
of warfare between Russian and Manchu forces, and postponed 
Russian enjoyment of the resources of the Amur region for two 

^3 v. A. Samoilov, Semen Dezhnev i ego vremia, map between pages 104 and 105; A. 
V. Efimov, Iz istorii velikikh russkikh geograficheskikh otkrytii v Sevcrnom Ledovitom i 
Tikhom Okeanakh, 56; L. S. Berg, Ocherki po istorii russkikh geograficheskikh otkrytii, 
84; A. V. Efimov, Iz istorii russkikh ekspeditsii na Tikhom Okeane, 49. In those days 
western Europeans were familiar only with the southern part of the Pacific Ocean; they 
had little knowledge of the part north of the Japanese main island of Honshu and of 
California. The Russian explorers who first reached the eastern shores did not realize 
that they had found the Pacific; indeed they did not know of its existence. Instead they 
referred to the ocean as Lamskoe More (after Lama, the native word for sea). Some 
reserved this designation only for the northwestern part of the Sea of Okhotsk, calling 
the northeastern section Penzhinskoe More; the sea at the eastern shore of Kamchatka 
was known as Bobrovoe More (Beaver Sea) and near the mouth of the Anadyr River as 
Anadyrskoe More. (Znamenskii, 8.) 

24 Story, 11-12. According to some historians Semen Dezhnev and a party of Cossacks 
sailed across to the American continent at mid-century. Regarding the controversy con- 
nected with this voyage, see Raymond H. Fisher, "Semen Dezhnev and Professor 
Golder," 281-292. 

25 Poiarkov may have brought back word of Sakhalin Island (Golder, 256), but there 
seems to be no evidence that he actually set foot on the island, as stated by some writers. 

26 E. G. Ravenstein, The Russians on the Amur, 25. Poiarkov left a legend that the 
Russians lived on human flesh, shooting down the natives to be roasted at Russian 
campfires. Though Poiarkov was tried for murder by his own government, "to all 
Asiatics, the Red Hairs were cannibals." (Harry Emerson Wildes, "Russia Meets the 
Japanese," 55.) "We cannot deny to Poyarkof the merit of having been the first to ex- 
plore the course of the Amur," Ravenstein wrote. "At the same time his treacherous 



The Expeditions of Poiarkov and Khabarov 

The Russian government did not desire hostilities with the Manchu 
empire and sought to curb the outrages of the Cossacks by calling 
Khabarov to Moscow and leaving Onufrii Stepanov in his stead. 27 
But the activities of the Russians along the Amur River remained a 
thorn in the flesh of the Manchus and in the spring of 1655 the latter 
launched a large-scale attack on Fort Kumarsk, the main Russian 
position. Repulsed by the Russians with heavy losses, the Manchus 
resorted to a scorched earth policy, vacating the shores of the Amur 
River and destroying all settlements. This threw the Russians onto 
their own meager resources. But though it deprived them of con- 
venient booty, it did not discourage their inroads. Attempts by 
Stepanov to turn the Cossacks to the pursuit of agriculture and peace 
came to naught, for the Cossacks, accustomed neither to work nor 
discipline, stepped up their forays against the Manchus and engulfed 

and cruel behaviour towards the natives, who had received him with open arms, makes 
him suffer greatly in our estimation; whilst his want of foresight, in entering an un- 
known region, in the middle of winter, without a sufficient supply 'of provisions, proves 
him to have been a man scarcely fit for the command of an expedition of this kind." 
(Ravenstein, 13.) 

27 So self-confident had some of the Russians become, that in 1670 the military com- 
mander of Nerchinsk instructed the Cossack Ignatii Milovanov to demand at Peking 
that the great Manchu emperor K'ang Hsi become a vassal of the Russian tsar. (Michel 
N. Pavlovsky, Chinese-Russian Relations, 127-144.) 



the Amur region in anarchy. Eventually, in 1658, Stepanov himself 
led five hundred Cossacks on a raid into Manchuria. They were 
engaged by a superior Manchu force and Stepanov and over half of 
his men were killed. 

By 1661 the Russians had abandoned the whole of the Amur, yet 
twenty years later, thanks ironically to the efforts of such men as the 
Polish exile to Siberia Nikifor Chernigovsky, Russia seemed more 
firmly established than ever in this region, and in 1684 the territory 
was made- into the separate province of Albazin, with a special coat 
of arms and seal for the city of Albazin. But the Manchus and Chinese 
had other plans for the Amur region, and in 1685 the foremost Rus- 
sian stronghold at Albazin was laid waste by a powerful Manchu 
army. The generosity of the victorious Manchus in permitting the 
Russian commander and his men and the inhabitants of Albazin to 
depart freely for Nerchinsk was not appreciated by the Russians, and 
when the Manchus withdrew to Aigun, a city on the right bank of 
the Amur River, the Russians hastened to reestablish Albazin and 
other Amur settlements. The Manchus did not wax enthusiastic over 
Russian persistence and dispatched an overwhelming army to expel 
the intruders again. But before the inevitable decision was reached on 
the battlefield, representatives of the two governments, meeting on 
Russian initiative, concluded in 1689 the Treaty of Nerchinsk, de- 
marking the Russo-Chinese frontier. Negotiating from a position of 
strength — with the Russian negotiators practically at their mercy — 
the Manchus made China's first treaty with the West no less than 
an "equal" one. Indeed it favored China, leaving the Amur region 
in Manchu hands. 28 Once more the expansionist drive of Russia 
was deflected eastward. 

The obstacles which the Russian landsmen had to overcome as 
they ventured into the Pacific were tremendous. The northwestern 

28 Admiral G. I. Nevelskoi, Podvigi russkikh morskikh ofitserov na krainem vostoke 
Rossii, 27-37; Gaston Cahen, Some Early Russo-Chinese Relations, 14-16; Ravenstein, 
38-44; Aitchen K. Wu, China and the Soviet Union, 56. A translation of the main body 
of the Treaty of Nerchinsk may be found in Victor A. Yakhontoff, Russia and the Soviet 
Union in the Far East, 351-352. According to Ravenstein (p. 62) there was an intriguing 
difference in the preambles of the Russian and Chinese texts. Russian: "The Plenipo- 
tentiaries, in order to remove all cause of discontent between the two empires, to con- 
clude a permanent peace, and to settle the frontiers, agree, in their conference at 
Nerchinsk, to the following articles." Chinese: "In order to suppress the insolence of 
certain scoundrels, who cross the frontier to hunt, plunder, and kill, and who give rise 
to much trouble and disturbance; to determine clearly and distinctly the boundaries be- 
tween the empires of China and Russia; and lastly, to re-establish peace and good under- 
standing for the future, the following articles are, by mutual consent, agreed upon." 


shores of the Sea of Okhotsk whence they set out were dotted with 
cliffs that broke steeply through the surface of the water. The western 
coast of Kamchatka was lower and its lagoons, behind the tongues 
of the river mouths, offered shelter, but entrance into these rivers was 
as difficult as into the rivers of the Okhotsk shore. The dangers lurk- 
ing along the coastal sandbanks and surfs of the Sea of Okhotsk were 
accentuated by the tide fluctuations of the rivers. They were further 
multiplied, particularly in the north, by frequent fogs in late spring, 
by numerous storms in summer, and by ice — in broad strips along 
the shore and in roving masses at sea — in winter. As the Russians 
pushed out to sea, compass-less, in primitive little flat-bottom boats 
with oars and straight deerskin sails that could be hoisted in favorable 
wind only, and even in deerskin-covered, birch-frame river boats, 
they resembled more the Vikings of the ninth and tenth centuries 
than their own western European contemporaries. But danger merely 
lured the hardy adventurers on; the anger of the elements and the 
resistance of the natives played second fiddle to the promise of easy 
wealth held forth by the eastern regions. In a combination of private 
plunder and imperial expansion, the government and its none too 
obedient subjects joined hands in pushing back the Russian frontier 
to the shores of America and Japan. 29 


The west Europeans had approached India, China, Japan, and the 
Spice Islands from the south, by way of Africa. Some sought a North- 
west Passage through the barrier of the American continent. The 
Russians set out from the opposite direction in search of a Northeast 
Passage. In this, the voyages and experiences of the western Euro- 
peans were of little help. As the Russians put out to sea in their frail 
little crafts, they ventured into the unknown. 

News about Japan reached Russia relatively late. Not until the 
seventeenth century do we find mention of Japan in Russian sources. 
The little information which the Russians first had probably came 
from the Dutch who had retained a foothold in Japan and who were 
welcome guests and teachers at the Russian capital in the middle and 
particularly late seventeenth century. It was the government-inspired 
translation into Russian of a Dutch work, the Atlas of the Flemish 

29 Znamenskii, 9-12; William Coxe, Account of the Russian Discoveries between Asia 
and America, 10-13. 



geographer Gerhardus Mercator in 1637 which formed the basis for 
a number of subsequent Russian manuscripts that made mention of 
Japan. One of these described Japan as a country of three major 
islands — the largest of which it called "Iapan" — and of many smaller 
islands, a country commercially advanced and abounding in gold, 
pearls, precious stones, and other riches. But it placed Japan most 
vaguely in the waters between America and China. The first Russian 
maps of Siberia, compiled in the second half of the seventeenth cen- 
tury, gave no indication of Japan. Nevertheless more and more data 
about Japan was gradually being accumulated in Russia. 

Not all foreign reports about Japan were useful. Western European 
misconceptions about the disposition of northern Japan and about 
the existence of fabulous gold and silver islands east of northern 
Japan did more to delay than to hasten Russian discovery of Japan. 
The contradictory stories which European travelers brought back 
from Japan about Hokkaido — then still called Ezo and Matsumae — 
which they described as a body of land situated to the north of the 
Japanese main island and inhabited by a non-Japanese people (the 
Ainu), were so confused that European cartographers were unable 
to record its position correctly or uniformly. Some portrayed Hok- 
kaido as a huge separate island, others as a continuation of the Japa- 
nese main island. Some joined it to the Asian continent, others joined 
it to the American continent. Actual exploration of the northern 
territories by the Dutch seamen Maerten Gerritsen Vries and 
Hendrick Cornelisz Schaep — the first and until the end of the eight- 
eenth century only western European explorers of this region — 
merely compounded the confusion. Blinded by fog, Vries crossed over 
from Hokkaido to Sakhalin without noting the strait that separates 
them and thus regarded Sakhalin as a continuation of Hokkaido. One 
of the Kuril Islands (Etorofu) he named Staaten Eyland; another 
one (Kunashiri) he mistook for part of Hokkaido, and still another 
one (Uruppu) for the shore of America, naming it Compagnies Land, 
"proving" thereby at once the tremendous expanse of Hokkaido and 
the proximity of America to Japan. Stories picked up by Cossack 
explorers along the Pacific coast failed to clarify the situation, and 
the general overextension of Hokkaido to the North backed by the 
observations of Vries misled the Russians into regarding the two 
bodies of land, Hokkaido and Sakhalin, as one and the same. 30 

so Znamenskii, 17-26; Golder, Russian Expansion, 117-131; Berg, 98; Lawrence C. 
Wroth, The Early Cartography of the Pacific, 220. For an account of the development of 


MDCP) fy 







Stepping-stones to Japan 


In 1678 Nikolai Spafarii, upon his return from China as Russian 
envoy, submitted a set of lengthy notes to the Department of Foreign 
Affairs. He had been instructed to collect information about the 
countries adjacent to China, and his report on Japan, although inac- 
curate, was the first serious attempt to relate the geographical posi- 
tion of Japan to the Russian far east. Writing on the basis of informa- 
tion gleaned from western European books, from the Jesuits in 
Peking, from Chinese books translated by these Jesuits, as well as 
the accounts brought back from the Amur River by Vasilii Poiarkov 
and fellow Cossacks a generation earlier, Spafarii reported that the 
large island of Japan stretched southward from a point vis-a-vis the 
mouth of the Amur River down the China coast at a distance of some 
two days travel from shore. Though Spafarii spoke elsewhere of an 
island opposite the Amur Estuary and of other islands far at sea, his 
northwesterly projection of Japan was no doubt the product of his 
consolidation of Hokkaido and Sakhalin; at the same time Spafarii's 
findings helped to perpetuate this misconception. 

The maps of Siberia and adjacent regions, compiled by Semen 
Remezov at the turn of the eighteenth century, though diverse in 
their description of the Japanese Islands and Sakhalin, also supported 
Spafarii's view of the proximity of Japan to the Amur Estuary. The 
Koreans, to the south of the Amur, were reported to be trading with 
the Japanese. To establish commercial relations with Japan it seemed 
necessary only to cross the Amur and to participate in the Korean- 
Japanese trade or else to proceed directly to seemingly nearby Japan 
itself from the mouth of the Amur, where it was said large vessels 
could be built. But the Treaty of Nerchinsk barred the Russians from 
the Amur River and it appeared that Japan would have to be 
approached from points near the mouths of the Uda, Ulia, or Okhota 
rivers, when word was received that in its northern parts, which 
Remezov had left uncharted, Japan might extend to the Russian 
mainland in yet another region — in the vicinity of newly discovered 

The news of the alleged proximity of Japan to Kamchatka was 
brought to Moscow in about 1700 by Volodimer Atlasov, the famous 
explorer of Kamchatka. Having noticed that the implements of the 
inhabitants of the peninsula were not exclusively primitive, but in 

Japanese geographical knowledge concerning Hokkaido, see Suematsu Yasukazu, Kinsei 
ni okeru hokuho mondai no shinten, 65-97. 



part of a higher technique, Atlasov had inquired as to their origin 
and had learned that they were brought to the continent by strangers 
from islands at sea. As Atlasov followed the direction in which the 
natives pointed, he observed "what appeared to be islands" on the 
horizon opposite the first Kuril River. The closest one of these was 
probably Araido-to, the northernmost of the Kuril Islands, whose 
peak, Oyakoba Yama, rises to over seven and a half thousand feet. 
The natives received from these islands china and crockery, cotton 
fabrics, striped and colorful nankeens, and clothing. But the natives 
could not identify the "magnificent people" who inhabited the 
islands, nor could they tell anything about their country. The foreign 
goods were recognized eventually as Japanese and the conclusion was 
drawn that the strangers who came from the neighboring island were 
Japanese; it was not realized that the goods were brought instead by 
middlemen — the inhabitants of the southern Kuril Islands.' 51 

The illusion of the proximity of Japan — though Atlasov himself 
did not know of Japan by that name if he knew of it at all — was given 
added speciousness by the discovery of an actual live Japanese, 
Dembei, a merchant's clerk from Osaka. Dembei was the forerunner 
of a whole series of Japanese castaways, thrown periodically on the 
shores of Russian activity. On the eve of her seclusion, Japan had 
begun to expand into southeast Asia and her countrymen had made 
their way to the Philippines, Annam, Siam, and Java, establishing 
flourishing colonies there. But her voluntary isolation had compelled 
Japan not only to restrict her territorial expansion, but to scuttle her 
naval efforts, and to discontinue the construction of big seagoing 
vessels. Meanwhile the rapid growth of internal trade, spurred by 
the demands of "Alternate Residence," resulted in the large-scale 

3i Znamenskii, 22-37; A - Sgibnev, "Popytki russkikh k zavedeniiu torgovykh snoshenii 
s Iaponieiu," 38, footnote; Colder, 98. The origin of the term "Kuril" is controversial. 
It was believed at first that the Cossacks so named the Kuril Islands after their smoulder- 
ing volcanic mounds — kurit'sa being the Russian equivalent of "to smoke." (Sgibnev, 
38.) But the term was applied to the peoples of Southern Kamchatka and to Southern 
Kamchatka itself (Kuril'skaia Zemlia) before it was applied to the Kuril Islands. 
(Golder, Russian Expansion, 109.) A more plausible explanation, therefore, is that the 
term was borrowed by the Cossacks from the Kamchadals, who refer to the inhabitants 
of Southern Kamchatka as "Kuzhi" ("those who live to the south" or "local ones"), the 
Cossacks taking the Kamchadal "zh" for an "r." The Kuril Islands, Sakhalin, and 
Northern Japan were still inhabited by the Ainu. The northernmost Kuril Islands and 
southern Kamchatka were populated by a mixture of Ainu and Kamchadals — the 
Koriaks living in the north and west of Kamchatka, the Kamchadals along the Kam- 
chatka river and its tributaries. The Gilyaks called the Ainu "Kugi"; the Ainu them- 
selves called their islands "Kuri-misi" ("People's Land"), again terms similar to 
"Kuril." (Znamenskii, 35-36; Golder, Russian Expansion, 109-110.) 



development of water transportation along the coasts of Japan. The 
hundreds of vessels which now dotted the shores and navigable rivers 
were stunted in size and seaworthiness by law. An unexpected storm — 
and many a vessel and crew were doomed. Japanese literature 
abounds in the tales and fables of castaways who after years of absence 
returned to their homeland. Usually, however, they were never heard 
from again. Only those whose ships were laden with staples had any 
hope of survival. Dembei had sailed in the winter of 1695 in a fleet 
of thirty transports laden with rice, sake, powdered sugar, damasks, 
nankeens, cottons, sandalwood, and iron from Osaka to Edo, when 
his vessel had been separated from the others by a typhoon and had 
been driven eastward into the open sea. Forced to cut down mast 
and sails to keep the vessel upright, he and some dozen shipmates 
were helplessly tossed about the ocean for twenty-eight weeks. 
Fortunately their cargo included ample foodstuffs and, once the 
storm abated, they salvaged a floating tree from the sea and, erecting 
a makeshift mast with new sails, shaped out of damask, succeeded 
finally in reaching Kamchatka, where they sighted a river and pro- 
ceeded upstream. But Kamchatka offered little sanctuary to the 
weary Japanese. They were set upon by some two hundred arrow- 
shooting, ax-swinging natives and, though they escaped extermination 
by a hasty surrender of their cargo, they found themselves prisoners 
on foreign soil. 32 

Two of the Japanese had died at sea. Two others perished — 
murdered by the natives, as Dembei is quoted in one place, or 
poisoned by the pungent diet of rotten fish and roots on which their 
captors thrived, as Dembei is quoted elsewhere. Ten of the survivors 
remained in the region of capture until carried away by vessels of 
undetermined nationality. Only Dembei, his hand wounded by an 
arrow, was taken inland to Kamchatka River to become eventually 
the first Japanese ever to visit European Russia. 33 

32 Martin Ramming, Reisen schiffbriichiger Japaner im XVIII. Jahrhundert, 1-4; N. 
N. Ogloblin, "Pervyi Iaponets v Rossii 1701-1705 gg.," 11-24; Harima Narayoshi, "Ro- 
koku ni okeru Nihongo gakko no enkaku," 45; Znamenskii, 37. See also Iurii Zhukov, 
Russkie i Iaponiia, 8; Keene, 58; Wildes, "Russia Meets the Japanese," 55-61; Efimov, 
7z istorii russkikh ekspeditsii, 68; Efimov, Iz istorii velikikh, 84; Philipp Johann von 
Strahlenberg, Das Nord- und Ostliche Theil von Europa und Asia, 437-438. 

33 Ogloblin, 14, 20; Zhukov, 9-10; Znamenskii, 37-38; Hiraoka Masahide, Nichi-Ro 
kosho shiwa, 3. Zhukov asserts that the other two Japanese were taken there also. 

(Zhukov, 9-10.) Dembei and his shipmates were probably not the first Japanese to have 
been driven to the shores of Kamchatka. Some Japanese writing found by Lukas Mo- 
rozko on the peninsula in 1696 is considered to be of earlier origin. (Wilhelm Barthold, 
Die geographische und historische Erforschung des Orientes mit besonderer BeriXcksich- 



Atlasov did not know Dembei for a Japanese. Nonetheless their 
meeting in 1697 was the first recorded encounter between a Russian 
and a Japanese, and may be considered the beginning point of Russo- 
Japanese relations. Informed at Fort Anadyrsk on the Icha River of 
a stranger, allegedly a Russian, held captive by the Kamchadals at 
Nane River, Atlasov had him fetched. 31 But though he recognized 
at once that Dembei, the stranger, was not Russian, he failed to 
discern his true nationality. In general appearance Dembei seemed 
to resemble a Greek; he was of lean build and had a sparse beard and 
black hair. Questioning him at first through an interpreter in the 
Koriak language, some of which Dembei had learned in the two 
years of his captivity, and later, after Dembei had remained with him 
awhile, in Russian, Atlasov concluded finally that Dembei was an 
Indian from the state of Uzakinsk. It is likely that Atlasov had never 
heard of Japan. India, on the other hand, was renowned in Russia 
for its riches even in folksongs, and Dembei talked much of the 
wealth of his country. Furthermore Edo, the name of Japan's capital, 
sounded like "Endo" in Osaka dialect, and India suggested itself 
to Atlasov. The state of Uzakinsk similarly was probably a corrup- 
tion of the name of Dembei's native city Osaka, which he no doubt 
gave as his place of origin. But Indian or Japanese, the value of 
Dembei as a firsthand source of information about foreign lands was 
obvious, and Atlasov decided to take him along to Yakutsk. Five days' 
journey out of Fort Anadyrsk the feet of Dembei, who was not 
accustomed to skiing, swelled up to such an extent that he had to 
return to the fort and await transportation by carriage. When he 
reached Yakutsk he found that the chief officer had decided to deliver 
him to higher authorities and, provided with materials for clothing, 
allowance for footwear and nourishment, and one ruble spending 
money, Dembei continued on to Moscow with an escort of Cossacks. 
News of Dembei's discovery aroused much interest in the capital, 
interest mixed with concern for his well-being when it was learned 
that the Cossacks transported also public funds, and orders were 
issued exhorting the Cossacks to maximum speed and care. 

In the closing days of 1701 or at the beginning of 1702 Dembei 

tigung der russischen Arbeiten, 123; V. V. Bartold, Materialy cilia istorii fakulteta vos- 
tochnykh iazykov, 1. 

34 Dembei stated in Aussia that it had been he who had sought out Atlasov upon the 
arrival of the Russians in Kamchatka, having been impressed by Russian cleanliness, and 
anxious lest he be left to starve. (Ogloblin, 21; Zhukov, 10.) 



reached Moscow. Here he was correctly identified as Japanese. 
Nobody could be found who spoke his language, but the members of 
the Department of Siberian Affairs who interviewed him were better 
versed in geography than Atlasov, and they had at hand a German 
account of Japan with pictures of Japanese scenes and objects which 
Dembei, who by now had broadened his Russian vocabulary, readily 
identified as Japanese. 35 

Emperor Peter the Great, who had an ardent interest in foreign 
countries, received Dembei in an extended audience at Preobra- 
zhenskoe Selo near Moscow on January 19, 1702. The same day he 
decreed that Dembei be instructed in Russian and, having learned 
Russian, be assigned several young people to teach them both spoken 
and written Japanese. He stated that it was to be left up to Dembei 
whether or not he was to be christened, and that Dembei was to be 
consoled with the promise of eventual repatriation. In April 1702 
Dembei was transferred from the Department of Siberian Affairs to 
the Department of Artillery, there to begin his studies. It is not clear 
how successful he proved either as student or teacher. In 1705 Peter 
inquired whether Dembei had actually been taught Russian and in 
turn had taught Japanese, how many students he had instructed, and 
whether he was still teaching, but no answer has been handed down. 
Nevertheless it appears that the same year a Japanese language school 
was established in St. Petersburg with Dembei as instructor. In 1710 
Dembei petitioned for permission to return to Japan, but Peter 
refused to release him notwithstanding earlier assurances that he 
could go back upon the completion of his teaching duties. As if to 
emphasize the finality of his decision Peter went back on yet another 
promise and ordered Dembei christened; henceforth Dembei was 
known as Gavriil (Gabriel). 36 

Peter had returned from Europe in 1698. Though he had heard of 
Japan before his celebrated voyage abroad — in 1688 he had written 
to Andrei Vinius, secretary of the Department of Siberian Affairs, 
about the Christian persecutions in Japan — it is likely that in Hol- 
land he had acquired additional information about the Dutch in 
Japan, particularly as he was on close terms with Nikolai Vitsen, 

ss Ogloblin, 13-14; Ramming, Reisen, 8; Bartold, Materialy, 1; Znamenskii, 37-40. 

se Ogloblin, 12, 16-18; Znamenskii, 43-44; S. I. Novakovskii, Iaponiia i Rossiia, 10-11; 
Zhukov, 13. Golder, Russian Expansion, 101, note 3; Letter from Chief of Artillery De- 
partment Efim Zybin to General-in-chief of Artillery la. V. Brius, 464. The actual 
establishment of the school is questioned by Barthold on the ground that he has found 
no mention of it in contemporary records. (Barthold, Geographische, 124.) 



mayor of Amsterdam, who had made a careful study of Vries's expe- 
dition to Japan and had himself recorded information concerning 
Japan on a map dedicated to Peter. Dembei now provided new data 
of importance. Not all his statements were accurate; not all were 
correctly understood. But this does not detract from their significance; 
on the contrary, some of the misinformation was especially exciting. 
Dembei described Japan as a civilized country with walled cities and 
sturdy buildings, rich in gold and silver, and with internal commerce 
well developed, a country whose prosperous people worshipped 
images like those of China and who, though they lived at peace with 
their neighbors, had firearms. 

Dembei reported that the Japanese did not go abroad, that their 
vessels were limited in size and design to the needs of coastal trade. 
But he added that Germans (in actuality the Dutch) came to Naga- 
saki and there and only there resided and traded with the Japanese. 
He did not elaborate on his government's seclusion policy. To do so 
in a foreign land would have been impolitic. Yet the omission left the 
Russians without reason for not seeking out Japan and failed to 
warn them (or to corroborate warnings that they may have received 
from others) against the dangers that awaited their mariners at the 
shores of Japan. Consequential was also a misunderstanding which 
gave the impression that Japan was part of the Eurasian continent. 
Dembei did not know that "Kitai" was the Russian name for China. 
When asked about "Kitai," he apparently mistook it for Akita, a 
place on the northwestern coast of the Japanese main island and 
declared emphatically that he had gone there by sea and by land. In 
the absence of data about the northern limits of Japan, the Russians 
were thus led to conclude erroneously that Japan was joined to 
Korea by a land bridge under Chinese suzerainty. This prospect must 
have intrigued Peter for to the economic significance of Dembei's 
testimony concerning Japan's wealth and foreign trade there was 
added strategic meaning: if Japan with her firearms bordered on 
China — perhaps as Spafarii had reported vis-a-vis the Amur River — 
the Russians, who in spite of withdrawal had retained their interest 
in the Amur region, might someday find themselves face to face with 
a new rival on the continent. 37 

37 Znamenskii, 30; Efimov, Iz istorii velikikh, 74, 85; Ogloblin, 21-24. 




Jp^ir^T he discovery of Dembei was a guidepost that routed 
^'j£ Russia's search for Japan via Kamchatka. An imperial 

J ukase of 4702 commanded both the subjugation of dissi- 
dent tribes on Kamchatka and the collection of informa- 
tion about Japan with a view to establishing commercial relations 
with the latter. The one hundred men whom it ordered to Kamchatka 
were not adequate to the task, however; more manpower was required 
to secure Russia's hold on the peninsula. But the imperial wish was 
not forgotten and in 1710 Dorofei Traurnikht, the chief officer of 
Yakutsk, referred to the ukase in his instructions to Cossack Vasilii 
Sevastianov, who set out for Kamchatka to make inquiries about the 
Japanese and other "wealthy peoples" in the Pacific Ocean and about 
the establishment of trade with them; and when in 1711 mutineers 
sought to justify the slaying of some superiors, they argued that one 
of them had failed to provide the emperor with the information 
demanded by the ukase. 

Meanwhile, in 1704, the Kamchatkan tradesman Vasilii Kolesov 
had been ordered by the authorities in Yakutsk to explore the limits 
of Kamchatka and to investigate whether there existed islands nearby 
and if so to whom they belonged. Two years later, in 1706, one of 
Kolesov's subordinates, Mikhail Nasedkin, determined the peninsular 
character of Kamchatka and sighted the first Kuril Islands. But 
though Nasedkin and his detachment of fifty men took their dog 
sleds to the very tip of Kamchatka, they halted for lack of ships. 
Yakutsk authorities were to order the construction of the necessary 
ships, but by the time these orders arrived, the crossing of the first 
islands had been negotiated. 

The impetus that suddenly carried Cossacks and government 
servants across the waters to nearby islands was not bravery but fear 
of retribution. Driven to revolt by the hardships of service and the 
exactions of the officialdom, the mutineers in 1711 murdered three 
of their superiors (among them the explorer Atlasov!) and for three 
months roamed through Kamchatka under the leadership of Danila 
Antsiforov and Ivan Kozyrevskii, robbing and plundering. Then, to 



mitigate the punishment which was their due, they played up to the 
evident interest of Peter the Great in the Pacific area by padding 
their professions of remorse with pledges to subjugate the native 
"treacherous thieves" of the Bol'shaia River area and to add new 
territories to the Russian empire. At the same time they reported 
that they had freed four Japanese castaways from Kamchadal captivity 
and had learned from them, as two of the Japanese spoke some 
Russian (!), that their country was on an island opposite Cape 
Lopatka in the Pacific Ocean. 1 

True to their promise, the Cossacks and government servants made 
their way to Cape Lopatka, and from there on small boats and 
bidarkas crossed seven dangerous miles of strong currents and eddies 
to Shimushu, 2 the first Kuril Island. The natives who inhabited 
Shimushu were Kamchadals who had lived on southern Kamchatka 
until the conquest of the peninsula by the Cossacks had forced them 
off the continent. Now they were subjugated with ruthlessness. Then, 
disappointed in the flat island's lack of fur-bearing animals, the 
Russians pushed on to Paramushiru, the second Kuril Island, on 
three captured barges. But their thirst for peltry remained un- 
quenched. The natives of this large island, pure Kurilians who had 
migrated hither from islands to the south and are commonly known 
as Ainu (from the Kurilian word "man" or "inhabitant"), were too 
numerous to permit the use of force; yet they rejected peaceful 
requests for tribute and so the Russians had to leave empty-handed. 
Nevertheless their visit to Paramushiru was not completely in vain. 
They learned from the Ainu that strangers whose land could be seen 
from the southern part of the island came to Paramushiru to barter 
nettle cloth, iron, and other commodities for beaver skins. The island 
of the strangers, they gathered from the Japanese castaways, was in 
turn near the city of "Matmai" (Matsumae) and the empire of 
"Apon" (Japan). Catering again to the interests of Peter, the mu- 
tineers could promise to explore Japan itself. 3 

i Znamenskii, 47-50; Novakovskii, 12. At the time Cape Lopatka was known as Kam- 
chadal'skii Nos, that part of the Pacific Ocean as the Sea of Penzhinsk. 

2 For the sake of consistency and convenience all Kuril Islands are given by their 
Japanese names, as they are still listed on U.S. Navy and Army maps as well as in most 
atlases available in American libraries. The Russian variations of the Japanese names 
may readily be found in standard gazetteers, and are indicated on some of the maps in 
this book. 

3 A. Polonskii, "Kurily," 374-375. The advance of the Russians to the second island 
and consequently the authenticity of information received there is open to question. 
The mutineers may well have exaggerated the weight of their services in order to swing 




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The Kuril Archipelago, according to Golovnin. Sakhalin, as proved later, is an island. 

Upon their return to the mainland in autumn 1711, the Cossacks 

and government servants found Kamchatka under the jurisdiction of 

a new commander, Vasilii Savelev. But notwithstanding their own 

repeated avowals of repentance, they refused to submit to his author- 

ity and would not surrender Fort Bol'sheretsk with its personnel and 

the balance of justice in their favor. One of the leading figures in these exploits, Gri- 

gorii Perelomov, testified in 1712 under torture that the men had not gotten beyond the 

first island and that although two islands could be seen at sea, their relationship to 

Matsumae was not known. (Znamenskii, 51-52.) 


stores of tribute. On the contrary the mutineers considered murder- 
ing Savalev and plundering the various strongholds on Kamchatka 
and then migrating to the islands beyond the straits. This plan was 
never put into effect, partly because of the loss of the leadership of 
Antsiforov who in the spring of 1712 was killed in combat with the 
natives. When the more experienced Vasilii Kolesov replaced Savelev 
as commander of Kamchatka, the mutineers bowed in submission. 

Kolesov, who had been honored for his previous service on Kam- 
chatka, had orders to deal severely with the mutineers. His original 
instructions from Yakutsk provided for the death of Antsiforov and 
six: of the ringleaders and at least one of them, Grigorii Perclomov, 
was interrogated under torture. These instructions were soon super- 
seded by orders from the governor of Siberia, Prince Matvei Gagarin, 
sparing the mutineers on condition that they would turn to the 
subjugation of hostile natives and the exploration of new lands. In 
accordance with these modified instructions Kozyrevskii — whose name 
had somehow been glossed over in the original list of condemned 
ringleaders, yet whose close association with Antsiforov made him 
of value as a potential explorer and who had ingratiated himself by 
informing on two of his comrades concerning more recent crimes — - 
was let off with a fine and orders to compile a sketch of the limits of 
Kamchatka and the islands beyond the strait. This he did after 
another trip to Bol'shaia River, drawing no doubt both on his per- 
sonal recollections of the voyage to the island and on information 
gathered from various natives and from the Japanese castaways, ship- 
wTecked in 1710. Among the various things brought back from the 
expedition were twenty-two Japanese gold coins. 4 

The stories of the castaways about the wealth of the Japanese Is- 
lands beyond the Kuril Archipelago goaded Kolesov to take a more 
determined step in the realization of Peter's ukases, and in spring 
1713 he ordered Kozyrevskii to explore the Kuril Islands and the 
empire of Japan. At the head of an expedition of fifty-five well-armed 
government servants and hunters from different Kamchatkan forts, 
as well as eleven tributary natives and with a Japanese castaway by 
the name of Sanima as guide and interpreter for the Japanese empire, 
Kozyrevskii visited Shimushu and Paramushiru, the first two Kuril 
Islands. But though he overcame fierce native resistance and sighted 
a third island, it was too risky to proceed farther south without native 
guide, compass, or sails and he returned to Kamchatka before the 

* Harima, 792; Znamenskii, 52-54. 



seasonal cessation of navigation. Nevertheless Kozyrevskii had added 
to his information sufficiently to be able to draft the first Western 
description of the whole Kuril Archipelago. 5 Inaccurate as this de- 
scription proved in detail, it was important in toto, for while it made 
Japan more distant, it also made it more accessible because it re- 
vealed the island route from Russia to Japan. At the same time it 
pointed to a leak in Japanese seclusion and to the possibility of 
Russo-Japanese trade outside Japan, for Kozyrevskii reported that 
Japanese traders came to the sixth island to obtain ore in exchange 
for iron and cast iron kettles, lacquered eating utensils, cotton, and 
silk materials, as well as swords and knives. This information he had 
obtained indirectly from a native of Etorofu, and from Sanima. 6 

While Kozyrevskii was thus engaged in approaching Japan by way 
of the Kuril Archipelago, others advanced into the Pacific Ocean 
from the coastal regions north of the Amur Estuary. In 1714, before 
Kozyrevskii's report could have been received in the capital, orders 
went out to Nerchinsk to send two men to the limits of the Russian 
empire to explore lands at sea. The two duly reached the Sea of 
Okhotsk and turning southward journeyed landwise down the shore 
until they sighted an island. Inexperienced though they were in 
navigation, the two men safely reached that island in a small boat; 
but on their way back, the boat sank and the two perished, taking 
with them the secret of what they had seen. It is likely that their 
fateful journey had taken them either to the western extremity of 
Sakhalin or to one of the Shantar Islands, which had just been dis- 
covered successfully by Cossacks dispatched from Fort Udsk. Al- 
though it is not certain whether the two men had set out in search 

s Znamenskii, 54-56; Golder, Russian Expansion, 111-113; Polonskii, 390. Kozyrevskii 
identified the sixth island as Shokki. His enumeration of the Kuril Islands, followed by 
other early travelers, differs from present usage in numerical designation — he counted 
only the major islands — and at times even in name. See map of Shestakov. Kozyrevskii 
reversed the order of Uruppu and Etorofu. The map compiled by Lieutenant Com- 
mander V. M. Golovin a century later included smaller islands in its count. See map. 
According to Golovin's count Ezo or Matsumae (Hokkaido), on which Atkis (Ak- 
keshi) was located, is the twenty-second island. The first Japanese map of the Kuril 
Islands was drawn up by Sasaki Hyoye in about 1667. (Hiroteru Yamamoto, "History of 
the Kuriles, Shikotan, and the Habomai Islands," 461.) A picture of the relatively ac- 
curate map of the Kuril Islands by Nagakubo Sekisui (1786) may be found in the Jap- 
anese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Public Information Bureau, The Northern Islands, 17. 

6 In later years Russian statesmen were to lay claim to the northern Kurils on the 
ground of prior discovery. Yet if Kozyrevskii, as it seems, had obtained a large part of 
his information from the Japanese castaways, Kozyrevskii's description does actually 
more to discredit than to substantiate Russian "finders-keepers" claims. Kozyrevskii 
reported that he had extended Russian suzerainty to the two northernmost islands. 


of Japan, persistent belief in the proximity of Japan nourished the 
hope that the empire might be reached from where they had started. 
Certainly it was with this expectation that two merchant houses in 
St. Petersburg, when they petitioned the Senate in 1716 for permis- 
sion to trade with Japan and the East Indies, unfamiliar as yet with 
the details of Siberian geography, routed their cargo from Arkhan- 
gelsk to the Pacific coast by way of the Northern Dvina River and 
the Arctic Ocean to the mouth of the Ob River, across Lake Baikal 
and via the rivers Selenga, Ingoda, Shilka, and Amur. 7 The Amur 
River was still in Chinese hands, but its overwhelming importance 
as an artery of communication dictated its inclusion in Russian 
calculations of transcontinental transportation. Arkhangelsk was the 
gateway to contemporary Russian trade with western Europe. The 
merchant houses thus proposed to become middlemen between 
western Europe and the Far East. Enthusiastically endorsed as the 
plan was by Iakov Brius, General-in-chief of Artillery, with whom 
the petition was filed, it fell short of realization because the eastern 
regions were as yet insufficiently explored. Yet it spurred the acqui- 
sition of the necessary knowledge. When lack of suitable personnel 
prevented the governor of Siberia from supplying Brius with data 
about the navigability of the Amur and information about Japan, 
which he had requested in support of the above petition, Brius 
recommended to Peter that trained geodesists be dispatched to make 
a scientific survey of eastern Siberia and of a water route to Japan. 8 
In 1719 Ivan Evreinov and Fedor Luzhin, geodesists with Naval 
Academy training in the latest western European techniques of 
cartography, departed for the extremities of the Russian empire 
ostensibly to determine whether Asia joined America, but in fact to 
explore the Kuril Islands and to collect detailed information about 
Japan. They reached Okhotsk in the summer of 1720 and repairing 
an old, but large, boat which they found there continued to Kam- 
chatka by sea in September. In spring 1721 they moved the vessel 
from Icha River, where it had wintered, to Bol'sheretsk, and on June 
2 set sail for the islands to the South and Southwest. The seafarer 
Konradii Moshkov who had accompanied the geodesists from Okhotsk 

7 The concept of trade between Europe and the Far East by way of the Arctic was 
not new. The Muscovy Company had been organized in the sixteenth century with a 
view to finding a Northeast Passage, and Russian seafarers voyaged at that time past 
Novaia Zemlia and Vaigach Island to the mouth of the Ob and Enisei. 

sPolonskii, 389-393; Sgibnev, "Popytki," 39-40; Znamenskii, 57-60; Novakovskii, 14. 


— ••—..— Antsyforov and Kozyrevskii 1711-1713 «. -*_— Chernyi 1766-1769 

ifr ii « l i l H Evreinov and Luzhin 1721 i i i. 1 1 i i 1 1 - Shabalin 1777 

P" -Spanberg 1738 * k *X*'*ft Laxman 1792 

••»•*• 'Spanberg 1739 «••»•«••••« Khvostov and Davydov 1807 

_ _,_o— Storozhev 1750 Golovnin 1811 

Early Russian Voyages 
to the Kuril Islands and Japan 


navigated the vessel; only one other person in the retinue of the 
Cossacks seems to have had nautical experience — a captive Swede by 
the name of Andrei Bush. 

The Russians got as far as the fifth or sixth island, 9 when a storm 
tore their sail and forced them to cast anchor. On the third day both 
cables broke, and the Russians were swept into the open sea. Tossed 
about for a week, they were finally carried to Paramushiru Island by 
a change in wind. Short of food and water they let down a cannon 
and an anvil. When they tried to weigh this makeshift anchor the 
cable snapped, and once more they were at the mercy of the elements. 
But the wind was favorable and in spite of a torn sail they succeeded 
in reaching Bol'sheretsk toward the beginning of July. Here they 
made wooden anchors, weighted down with frying pans from the ship, 
and later that month safely negotiated the crossing to Okhotsk, and 
the geodesists returned to Europe. 

In 1722 Evreinov and Luzhin were received by Peter at Kazan and 
made a personal report. From the beginning their mission had been 
cloaked in secrecy, and it is not known what they communicated, 
though they are said to have presented a map containing sixteen of 
the Kuril Islands. As it seems unlikely that the search for a route to 
Japan per se had motivated this secrecy, scholars speculate that Peter 
may have taken interest in the Kuril Islands not only as stepping 
stones to the Japanese empire, but may have hoped to find among 
them the legendary islands of gold and silver. The sixth island, 
which Evreinov and Luzhin may have reached, was the one from 
which, according to Kozyrevskii, the Japanese obtained ore. There 
is no reason to assume that the geodesists had learned anything new 
about Japan. On the other hand, they had advanced farther along 
the Kuril chain than any of their countrymen and thus had taken 
Russia yet another step closer to Japan. 

The voyage of the two geodesists marked the beginning of a more 
scientific approach in Russian exploration. The vessel which they 
had reconditioned in Okhotsk was a sixty-foot-long one-master, on 
which the seafarer Nikifor Treska had negotiated the first maritime 
voyage from Okhotsk to Kamchatka in 1716. This open boat, how- 

9 Individual differences in numbering the islands make it impossible to determine 
exactly how far Evreinov and Luzhin traveled. Sgibnev writes that they got as far as the 
fifth island; Baer and Polonskii that they reached the sixth island (Shokki). (Sgibnev, 
"Popytki," 41; K. E. Baer, Die Verdienste Peter des Grossen um die Erweiterung der 
geographischen Kenntnisse, 34; Polonskii, 394. See also Stepan Krasheninnikov, Opisanie 
zemli kamchatki, 491, 786 note 4; Efimov, Iz istorii velikikh, 148.) 



ever imperfect, was the first vessel of a new, western European con- 
struction to sail along the Kuril Archipelago, and was superior in 
seaworthiness to the frail little crafts heretofore in use. 10 

Situated on the Gulf of Finland, St. Petersburg, the new capital of 
Russia since 1713, had become the cradle of a modern fleet, which 
included for the first time in Russian history real sea-going ships, 
some two and three decks high, studded with as many as a hundred 
cannons. To be sure some had been constructed in too great a haste 
with green timber and other inadequate materials, and soon sprang 
leaks and rotted; others were lost at sea by inexperienced commanders 
and crews. But nonetheless, thanks to foreign help, in but a brief 
span of time a Russian navy mushroomed on the Baltic shores. 

The remoteness of the eastern regions delayed the introduction of 
western European techniques to Pacific navigation, but the ever- 
present interest in furs — the desire to transport them to the markets 
of Europe as quickly, safely, and inexpensively as possible — was to 
overcome all distance. The cost of native raids on overland cara- 
vans, which between 1703 and 1715 took some two hundred Russian 
lives and between 1707 and 1712 completely blocked the exit of any 
tribute from Kamchatka, challenged the Russians to transport the 
furs to the Okhotsk shores by open sea. This was a task which de- 
manded more than the mere issuance of orders by the governor of 
Siberia, more than the half-hearted efforts of local officials whose 
sober moments seemed dedicated to feathering their own nest. Con- 
sequently expert seamen and ship's carpenters (among them Mosh- 
kov and Treska) were sent out from St. Petersburg and Yakutsk. 
Their instructions clearly mirrored the difficulties ahead. On one 
hand the men were promised both worldly and spiritual rewards: 
wealth, promotions, and imperial favor if by the grace of Christ they 
would reach Kamchatka and if by Divine grace they would return 
in one piece; life everlasting and care of their families, if by the will 
of Christ they did not survive. On the other hand they were threat- 
ened with certain death if they delayed or slowed down their voyage 
to Kamchatka or returned without having completed their mission. 
Whatever the incentive, the seamen and ship's carpenters arrived in 
Okhotsk in 1714 to lay the keel of a Russian fleet on the Pacific. 

By the summer of 1716 a sixty-foot-long one-master was completed. 

10 Sgibnev, "Popytki," 41; Polnoe sobranie zakonov russkoi imperii, v, no. 3266; 
Znamenskii, 70-72; Zhukov, 14-15; Gerhard Friedrich Miiller, Sammlung russischer Gc- 
schichte, in, 109-110; Otomo Kisaku, Hokumon sosho, 1, 108-112. 



With Treska at the helm, it ventured to Kamchatka and hack. Haz- 
ardous and slow though its one-year round trip was, it proved the 
feasibility of such a sea route. It was this modern vessel that Evreinov 
and Luzhin were to use in their exploration of the Kuril Islands. 

Other seafarers were sent to the Okhotsk shores, as was also a much 
prized compass. But because the transportation of tribute seemed 
the raison d'etre for a Pacific fleet, not many vessels were required and 
shipbuilding bogged down. Nevertheless seamen and carpenters 
continued to improve their skill and such minor voyages as those of 
Evreinov and Luzhin laid the foundations for the ultimate realization 
of naval expeditions on a much larger scale. 11 


Throughout the first quarter of the eighteenth century Peter 
the Great remained the major fountainhead of Russian interest in 
Japan. The hanging in 1721 for the gross misuse of funds of Prince 
Gagarin, who had displayed at least mild enthusiasm in the execu- 
tion of Peter's plans of exploration, only added to the burden of 
initiative on the part of the government, for once the expeditions 
to the Kuril and Shantar Islands had disclosed that Japan was not 
in the immediate vicinity of the Russian shores, Gagarin's successor, 
Prince Cherkasskii, retained little inclination to push its discovery. 
Once again reports from China and Japanese castaways became the 
main sources of information about Japan. 

The Swede Ivan-Lorents Lange, when he proceeded to Peking 
with the embassy of Leon Vasilevich Izmailov in 1719 as first Rus- 
sian commercial agent, bore instructions to gather all the informa- 
tion possible about Japan and about trade with Japan. The Dutch 
drew their greatest profits from this trade; so would the Russians 
once permission was granted to navigate the Amur, "especially in view 
of the low costs or losses and the lack of danger involved in the 
travel of the Russians and the importation of their goods and the 
exportation of others." The intelligence that Lange brought back 
about Japan after being expelled from Peking in 1722 for trying to 
communicate with envoys from Korea in an attempt to obtain from 
them additional information about China and nearby lands did not 
clarify the question of Japan's location, but it did throw light on 
the conditions of trade, stating that trade was permitted to the Dutch 

11 Znamenskii, 61-69. 



only, that it consisted in the exchange of tawed skins from Batavia 
for Japanese gold, silver, and porcelains, and that it was limited to 
four or five Dutch vessels a year. Lange described how the Japanese 
forced the Dutch to disarm and to remain within the confines of a 
special fortress, and how, when they were permitted to visit the city, 
they must first trample on a cross to give evidence that they would 
not propagate the Christian faith. He added that the Japanese were 
no more versed in military matters than the Chinese, had but a few 
small vessels, and relied primarily on arrows rather than firearms. 12 
Stories of Japan's wealth in gold, silver, and other things were 
corroborated by the mounting number of Japanese castaways in 
Russia. In 1708 and again in 1710 Japanese junks had been wrecked 
at Kamchatka. Of those Japanese who survived the first wreck, all 
fell into the hands of the natives but four, who were taken prisoner 
by the boyar Chirikov. Of the ten men who lived through the second 
wreck, four were killed by the natives, six taken into custody by 
Antsiforov. 13 Fearful lest the eventual death of Dembei put an end 
to Japanese language instruction, the government had ordered that 
in the event of such wrecks one castaway be sent to St. Petersburg. 
And so one of these men — apparently the same Sanima who had 
accompanied the expedition of Kozyrevskii — was taken to Yakutsk, 
christened Ivan, and sent on to the capital, where he arrived in 17 14. 14 
In 1729 another rice-laden junk was carried to Cape Lopatka. This 
time the Cossack Andrei Shtinnikov got to the Japanese before the 
natives did. But this was hardly cause for thanksgiving, for though 
Shtinnikov welcomed the castaways with professions of friendship, he 
craved their belongings and set upon them with the Kamchadals, kill- 
ing all but two of the Japanese. As news of the robbery seeped out, 
local authorities vied with each other in conducting an investigation. 
The Japanese captives were freed and Shtinnikov thrown into jail 
until he agreed to split the booty with the officials. Only in 1733 did 
justice triumph when a new investigation was launched and both 
Shtinnikov and one of his earlier investigators were hanged. The two 

12 Ibid., 73-75; K. Skalkovskii, Russkaia torgovlia v Tikhom okeane, 364; Kiuner, 9-10. 

13 Sgibnev, "Popytki" 38. According to Znamenskii four Japanese were rescued in 
1710. (pp. 49-50.) 

14 Barthold and Znamenskii state that Sanima arrived in St. Petersburg in 1714; 
Efimov that he arrived in 1719; Zhukov in 1711. According to Sgibnev Sanima was as- 
signed to Dembei as an assistant. Barthold on the other hand notes that there is no 
evidence that Sanima ever taught Japanese to any Russians. (Barthold, Geographische, 
125; Znamenskii, 50; Efimov, Iz istorii velikikh, 100, and Iz istorii russkikh, 88; Zhukov, 
13; Sgibnev, 56; Bartold, Materialy, iv, 4-5.) 



castaways, Sozo and Gonzo, were sent to Yakutsk, to Tobolsk, to 
Moscow, and eventually to St. Petersburg where in 1734 they were 
presented to the Empress, Anna Ioannovna, who ordered that they 
be christened (Sozo receiving the name Kuzma Schulz, Gonzo the 
name Demian Pomortsev) and that they be taught Russian. 15 

In the first quarter of the eighteenth century, Edo was the most 
populous city in the world with possibly a million inhabitants. Osaka 
numbered over three hundred and fifty thousand residents. Japan 
as a whole harbored already some thirty million souls. 10 The Jap- 
anese castaways, from Dembei to Sozo and Gonzo, were therefore 
struck by the bareness of Russia's eastern regions; even the sight of 
eighteenth century Moscow and St. Petersburg did not eradicate the 
impression of emptiness. When scholars from the Academy of Sci- 
ences interviewed them in 1735, they described Japan as a country 
of large cities, and fascinated their hosts with stories of Japan's great 
wealth in precious metals, costly materials, and foodstuffs. 

In June of 1736 Schulz and Pomortsev initiated Japanese language 
instruction at the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences under the super- 
vision of Andrei Bogdanov, assistant librarian of the academy. 17 But 
though two students (Petr Shenanykin and Andrei Fenev) were 
assigned to the Japanese, the secrets of their tongue remained un- 
communicated. Schulz died at the age of forty-three in the very year 
that Japanese instruction commenced, and Pomortsev followed only 
three years later, in 1739, at the early age of twenty-one. Pomortsev, 
the more talented of the two, could not write Japanese, but he had 
learned a considerable amount of Russian and in collaboration with 
Bogdanov had compiled three Japanese primers in Russian script. 
The Academy of Sciences preserved the memory of the two teachers 
with alabaster forms made of their faces. Fenev and Shenanykin 
continued their studies and even undertook to teach others, but the 
results were to be unsatisfactory. Still, steps had been taken to train 

is Barthold, Geographische, 123-130; Bartold, Materialy, iv, 1-5, 14-19; Harima, 792- 
793; Znamenskii, 80-82; Novakovskii, 18-20. Harima suggests Japanese characters for 
Sozo and Gonzo. Barthold renders the names as Soza and Goza. 

16 Smith, 34-35; Sansom, Japan, 466. 

17 Some authorities assert that Bogdanov was the son of Sanima by a Russian wife. 
Bartold (Materialy, iv, 3-4) elaborately disproves this, pointing out that Bogdanov was 
too old to have been born since Sanima's arrival. It is not impossible that A. Bogdanov, 
an artist, rather than A. I. Bogdanov, the librarian, was thus related and named in 
honor of the librarian. If the assertion of A. I. Bogdanov's biographers that he was 
born in 1707 in Siberia as the offspring of a Japanese were true, he would have had to 
be the son of Dembei, then the only Japanese in Russia, but Dembei was at that time 
already in Moscow. 



interpreters for the day when the improved Russian vessels would 
finally penetrate to the shores of Japan. 18 

Peter the Great's interest in Japan was unquestionable. Even dur- 
ing his campaigns in northern Europe and the Near East he found 
time to listen to discussion of Russian trade in the Pacific area — 
with Japan, the Philippines, and America. But his death in 1725 
threatened to take the wind out of the sails of Russian voyages east. 
Just then the Cossack Kozyrevskii, whose adventures had attracted 
attention a decade earlier, appeared on the scene again and with 
extravagant claims once more fanned up Russian interest in Japan. 

Kozyrevskii had disappeared from the forefront of early explora- 
tions in 1716, when, in consequence of new mischief on his part, 
he was deprived of his possessions and commanded to shave his head. 
But the robes of the monk Ignatii, which Kozyrevskii donned, failed 
to confine his turbulent spirit, and he was for ever at odds with those 
about him. Thus in 1724 he found himself under arrest, and escaping 
from his guards, faced the prospect of increasingly heavy punishment, 
when he resorted to the stratagem that had saved his neck in 1711: 
he offered to show the way to Japan. In a petition to the chief of- 
ficer of Yakutsk he asked to be sent to Moscow to instruct the highest 
authorities how and by what means Japan could be reached. This 
proposal was duly forwarded to the governor of Siberia and though 
it did not lead to Kozyrevskii's release to Moscow, it forestalled his 
incarceration. Captain Vitus Bering, a Dane who had entered Rus- 
sian service in 1703, was then passing through Tobolsk on his way 
to Okhotsk with instructions in Peter's own hand to outfit an ex- 
pedition to determine whether or not Asia and America joined. (As 
will be recalled the geodesists Evreinov and Luzhin had failed to 

is Harima, 792-794; Barthold, Geographische, 123-130; Novakovskii, 17-20; Znamenskii, 
81-82. Znamenskii reverses the order and dates of Sozo and Gonzo's deaths. 

In 1745 more Japanese were wrecked off Kamchatka. Five of them (known in Russia 
as Melnikov, Reshetnikov, Svinin, Popov, and Chernykh) were sent to the Japanese 
language school in St. Petersburg, then attached to the Senate Office, but none of them 
had the talent of Pomortsev. In 1753 the school was transferred to Irkutsk. Fenev, 
Shenanykin and three of the castaways were sent there. In Irkutsk the school remained 
with interruptions until 1816, but still without success. No Russian student of Japanese 
was assigned to the first Russian expedition to Japan (1739). Fenev and Shenanykin 
participated in a subsequent voyage (1742), but the vessels failed to reach Japan. In 
1761 the Irkutsk school was strengthened by the addition of personnel of another Jap- 
anese language school, previously in Ilimsk. In 1772 four students were made "corporals 
of Japanese." But when in 1792 Tugolukov, a student of the school, finally made his 
way to Japan with the Laxman expedition, the Japanese proved unable to understand 
him. (Bartold, Materialy, iv, 18-19; Kiuner, 13 footnote; Harima, 793-800.) 


pursue this part of their instructions.) It seemed only reasonable to 
present Kozyrevskii to Bering, and they met in Yakutsk in 1726. 19 

Bering's mission was clear. A voyage to Japan would have exceeded 
the scope of his present expedition. But he promised to take the mat- 
ter up upon his return to the capital. Meanwhile Kozyrevskii's talk 
of new lands and islands in the Pacific as well as the urgings of the 
Cossack Afanasii Shestakov that the natives of the nearby islands be 
brought more firmly under Russian sway had reached the ear of 
Empress Catherine I and Shestakov was ordered to explore the seas 
bordering the Russian far east and subjugate new lands with a view to 
further Russian expansion southward toward Japan. The expedition 
of Afanasii Shestakov, to which Kozyrevskii attached himself, was 
readied by 1729. It encompassed several ships: the Gavriil and For- 
tuna, vessels left from Bering's first expedition, and the Vostochnyi 
Gavriil and Lev, newly constructed. The vessels did not travel to- 
gether; they had different assignments. Yet the whole venture sounds 
almost like a family affair: Afanasii Shestakov set out on the 
Vostochnyi Gavriil, accompanied by the Lev, while the Fortuna was 
commanded by his son Vasilii Shestakov and the Gavriil by his 
nephew Ivan Shestakov (who had participated in the first Bering 
expedition). The expedition as a whole was a failure. Afanasii Shesta- 
kov himself and many of the men with him were killed by natives 
near the Penzhina River, but Vasilii Shestakov succeeded in visiting 
some of the northern Kuril Islands 20 and one of the Shestakovs 21 in 
reaching Kamchatka just in time to help rescue the Japanese casta- 
ways, Sozo and Gonzo, from the clutches of Shtinnikov — and share 
some of the loot. 22 

Bering's experiences in the East, both on land and at sea, gave him 
pause to ponder Russian objectives in the Pacific region. In 1730 he 
submitted two memoranda to Empress Anna Ioannovna 23 in which 
he dwelled on the development of Siberia and the need of exploring 
Russia's own northeastern shores and the shores of America across 
the Pacific. His expedition of 1725 to 1730 had failed to solve the 

is Znamenskii, 55-56, 74-76; Polonskii, 396-397; Sgibnev, "Popytki," 43; Novakovskii, 

20 Shestakov claimed to have gone as far as the fifth island, but it is more likely 
that he did not go beyond the second island. 

2i According to Kiuner Ivan, according to Znamenskii Vasilii. 

22 Kiuner, 11-13; Efimov, Iz istorii russkikh, 156-159; Znamenskii, 79-82. 

23 Novakovskii (p. 28) writes that Bering memorialized Catherine I, but that the 
plans materialized in the reign of Anna Ioannovna. This would mean that Bering 
presented the memoranda several years earlier, but he did not return until 1730. 



question of the contiguity of America and Asia, and much remained 
to be checked in this area. At the same time he emphasized the de- 
sirability of establishing contacts with Russia's nearest oceanic neigh- 
bor, Japan. "It would be not without benefit," he wrote, "to explore 
the Okhotsk and Kamchatka water ways to the mouth of the Amur 
and beyond to the Japanese islands, because I hope that it will be 
possible to find there suitable places for trade." Bering believed 
that trade with Japan (direct or indirect by way of the Kurils) would 
be of great profit. The lack of Russian vessels in that region could 
be overcome by building a ship on Kamchatka. "It will be possible to 
draw also on the Japanese vessels which happen to be coming the 
other way," he suggested. 24 

Bering's memoranda thus envisaged a new and larger expedition 
with broader objectives. Such an expedition required a Pacific base 
of operations. No longer was it adequate to obtain basic materials 
from Yakutsk. Bering proposed the development of the Okhotsk 
region and in particular the transformation of the little settlement 
at the mouth of the Okhota River into a regular port with facilities 
for shipbuilding and repairs, as well as the training of students in 
navigation. 25 

The Empress received Bering's suggestions with favor and initi- 
ated preparations for the first successful Russian expedition to Japan. 
She appointed Grigorii Skorniakov-Pisarev commander of the 
Okhotsk region, ordering him to populate it with colonists and 
artisans, and to construct a port with a small wharf and to build not 
only several small vessels suitable for runs to Kamchatka and back 
with furs and with merchants and their wares but also large ships, 
and to set up manual blast-furnaces and to forge anchors and other 
necessary nautical equipment. Although Skorniakov-Pisarev was to 
make use of local resources, she promised him the assistance of expert 
carpenters and seamen from the capital and elsewhere. The seamen 
would be necessary because Skorniakov-Pisarev was to do more than 
just establish a base of operations on the mainland. He was to send 
tribute collectors to islands already discovered and men and supplies 
to Kuril Islands not yet known. If possible he was to establish com- 
mercial relations with Japan. In this connection he was advised, as 

24 Sgibnev, "Popytki," 43; Znamenskii, 83. For a slightly different rendering of Ber- 
ing's second memorandum see Golder, Russian Expansion, 166-169. Chirikov modified 
the original statement. 

25 Golder writes that Chirikov had suggested that the boats be built at Okhotsk and 
not in Kamchatka. 



Bering had suggested, that if more Japanese castaways were found, 
they be treated well and be taken back to their homeland, thereby 
giving cause for friendship and a pretext for free trade. 

But Skorniakov-Pisarev failed to smooth the way for Bering. Dur- 
ing the reign of Peter the Great, Skorniakov-Pisarev had distin- 
guished himself as Director of the Naval Academy and as Chief Pro- 
curator of the Senate, but in later years he had run afoul of a court 
favorite and had been flogged and banished to Siberia. In exile 
Skorniakov-Pisarev had gone to seed. Upon his appointment as 
commandant of Okhotsk he had set out to the east, but stopped for 
almost three years at Yakutsk where he and the local chief official not 
only quarreled over men, equipment, and supplies for Okhotsk, but 
became rivals in denouncing and even arresting each other. When 
Skorniakov-Pisarev finally reached Okhotsk he gave himself over to 
plunder, turbulence and drink. Instead of laying the foundations for 
Bering's expedition he set up a harem and took delight in riding 
down the icy slopes of Okhotsk with his concubines. 26 

Meanwhile Bering's plans had been carefully examined by the 
Senate, the Admiralty College, and the Academy of Sciences and in 
the process the expedition had increased constantly until it reached 
gigantic proportions. Bering's proposals included related but quite 
different objectives, and so the Second Bering Expedition, known also 
as the Great Northern Expedition and the Second Kamchatkan Ex- 
pedition encompassed really several expeditions. These fell into two 
main categories: naval expeditions of discovery sent to explore the 
shores of Russia, America, and Japan and scientific expeditions de- 
signed to investigate Kamchatka, the eastern regions, and lands al- 
ready discovered and lands yet to be discovered by the other ex- 
peditions. Bering himself, newly raised to the rank of Captain-Com- 
mander, was in command of the total venture. Lieutenant-Com- 
manders Martin Spanberg, 27 like Bering, a Dane, and Aleksei Chiri- 
kov, a Russian, who had served with him on his first expedition, 
were again appointed his assistants. Chirikov was to accompany Ber- 
ing to America. Spanberg on the other hand was to proceed to Japan, 
assisted by Lieutenant William Walton, an Englishman who had but 
recently entered the Russian service, and by Ensign Aleksei Shelting, 
the young son of a Dutch seaman. The Second Bering Expedition 

26 Znamenskii, 84-86; Golder, Russian Expansion, 169. 

27 Morten Spangberg in Danish; variously spelled also Spagenburg, Spagenberg, and 



was starred with scientists of note, a large number of ships, a comple- 
ment of about 570 men, costly equipment and ample funds — all par- 
ticipants were granted double pay and two years' pay in advance. 
Thus the new Russian attempt to establish relations with Japan was 
part of what Golder has called "one of the most elaborate, thorough, 
and expensive expeditions ever sent out by any government at any 
time." 28 

Spanberg was ordered to construct three vessels, either at Okhotsk 
or on Kamchatka, and on these to set out in search of Japan by way 
of the Kuril Islands. En route he was to collect tribute from the 
northernmost islands, which were already part of the Russian do- 
main. He was to describe the other Kuril Islands, treat the natives 
there well, and make them Russian subjects, if they themselves so 
desired, and even then not to demand any tribute. He was to make 
inquiries, and if he found that any of the islands were Japanese, 
was to attempt to establish friendly relations with the inhabitants. 
He was not to linger on the islands, but was to push on to Japan it- 
self. There he should do his utmost to establish friendly relations 
with the Japanese, or at least to make them well disposed toward 
Russia. Should he find Japanese castaways on Kamchatka, he was 
to take them along as a pretext for his visit. Under no circumstances 
was he to seize Japanese vessels at sea to bolster his expedition, as 
Bering had suggested, nor to undertake any other hostile acts. He was 
instructed to investigate the conditions of Japan and of its ports. He 
was specifically warned to do so with great care, lest he be led into 
a Japanese trap and captured. If attacked by Japanese vessels he was 
to withdraw. 29 

Bering's memoranda to Empress Anna Ioannovna had been sub- 
mitted in 1730. Colonists had been ordered dispatched to the Okhotsk 
area in preparation for the expedition in 1731, and the Senate had 
officially approved the expedition at the end of the following year. 
But such were the problems of overland communication and the 
difficulties involved in outfitting the large expedition that though 
Spanberg left St. Petersburg in spring of 1733, he did not reach 

28 Golder, Russian Expansion, 170-171; Znamenskii, 86-87. Among the scholars of the 
expedition there were: the historian, Professor Fedr Ivanovich Miller (Gerhard 
Friedrich Muller); the doctor, chemist, and botanist, Georg Gmelin; the naturalist, 
Wilhelm Steller, and others. (Hirabayashi Hirondo, "The Discovery of Japan from the 
North," 321.) 

29 Berg, 94; Polnoe sobranie zakonov vm, nos. 6023, 6291; Kurt Krupinski, Japan 
und Russland, 11; Golder, Russian Expansion, 221-222; Znamenskii, 87-88. 



Okhotsk until autumn of the following year and was not able to set 
sail until the summer of 1738! Part of the delay was due to constant 
friction — sometimes even armed clashes — among the various of- 
ficials. At times such conflict was due to the coarse nature of the 
daredevil explorers; at times it was due to national prejudice — Span- 
berg's disdain for things Russian or Chirikov's resentment of Span- 
berg's attitude. 30 

When Spanberg reached Okhotsk in advance of Bering, who, en- 
grossed in organizational work, had halted at Yakutsk, he found that 
Skorniakov-Pisarev had failed to establish the necessary quarters. 
He therefore set about constructing shelter and vessels at the mouth 
of the Okhota River. But Skorniakov-Pisarev, who arrived somewhat 
later, disapproved of the site and began a separate project. There 
followed the usual recriminations and mutual denunciations not- 
withstanding the fact that in choice of site they were both proven 
wrong by a sudden flood that washed away all their labors. Nor did 
Bering's arrival in Okhotsk put an end to dissention. On the con- 
trary, Skorniakov-Pisarev ordered his subordinates to shadow mem- 
bers of the expedition, whom he suspected of illegal acts, all the way 
to Kamchatka while Bering, who had even less trust in Skorniakov- 
Pisarev's emissaries, denied them passage. There was jealousy and 
bitterness within the ranks of the expedition as well. We have already 
mentioned the dislike between Spanberg and Chirikov. Yet the two 
teamed up in denunciations of their leader, Bering! 

Such waste of effort only encumbered a task already difficult. Four 
years after the initiation of the expedition its leader had not yet 
reached the Pacific shores. The government which had approved the 
undertaking in the belief that it could be completed in six years, 
therefore, began to put pressure on Bering to hasten matters along. 
His pay was cut in half and he was threatened with demotion. At 
the same time, the government realized that the delay was not solely 
Bering's fault, and sent special officers to Siberia to enforce local re- 
sponse to Bering's needs. Nevertheless it was summer 1740, before 
the two-masted packet boats Sviatoi Petr and Sviatoi Pavel, on which 
Bering and Chirikov were to sail to America, were completed. 

Spanberg's somewhat smaller vessels were readied before this: in 
the autumn of 1737. They consisted of the newly-constructed flag- 
ship Arkhangel Mikhail, a one-masted brigantine sixty feet in length 

zopolnoe sobranie zakonov, vin, 1002-1013; Znamenskii, 89; Zhukov, 22. Golder states 
that Spanberg reached Okhotsk early in 1735. (Russian Expansion, 173.) 



and eighteen feet in width, captained by Spanberg himself and manned 
by Navigator Petrov, Pharmaceutist Gardebol, the medic Goviia 
and a crew of sixty-three; the newly built Nadezhda, a three-masted 
double sloop, seventy feet in length and eighteen feet in width, com- 
manded by Lieutenant Walton and manned by Navigator Kazimirov 
and a crew of forty-four; and the renovated Sviatoi Gavriil, built 
for Bering's first Expedition and commanded by Ensign Shelting 
and manned by Naviagator's Mate Vereshchagin and a crew of forty- 
four. Another vessel, the Fortuna, had also been reconditioned, but 
remained in the Sea of Okhotsk, and was wrecked shortly. 
^ On June 29, 1738 the Arkhangel Mikhail, Nadezhda, and Sviatoi 
Gavriil weighed anchor and went out to sea but encountering ice 
entered the security of Bol'shaia River at Bol'sheretsk on the western 
coast of Kamchatka for a week on July 18. Then, on July 26, swelled 
by the addition of several new participants — Navigator's Mate Rodi- 
chev, the geodesist Svistunov, three sailors and two interpreters— 
and replenished with fresh supplies, the vessels resumed their voyage. 
When they reached Paramushiru Island they set course to the south- 
west and headed down the archipelago. The sea was calm and the 
air felt pleasantly warm. But the usual summer fogs soon engulfed 
the ships and the captains lost sight of each other. On July 30 the 
Sviatoi Gavriil fell behind, on August 4, the Nadezhda. Spanberg 
sailed alone as far as Uruppu, naming and entering on a map the 
various islands he passed. The fog prevented an accurate count and 
Spanberg listed thirty-one Kuril Islands— more than actually existed 
in the area he had visited. Uruppu, Spanberg named Ol'khov Island. 
He sighted an island south of Uruppu, but did not proceed farther. 
The jagged, fathomless shores of the islands, the swift currents, and 
the countless unknown dangers ahead had become increasingly fear- 
ful as the nights of onrushing autumn shortened each day. The other 
vessels had fallen behind and provisions ran low. Spanberg rounded 
Uruppu and on August 14 at approximately latitude 45°30 r N. turned 
back to Bol'sheretsk, where he arrived safely on the 28th of the same 
month. There he found Shelting, who had started back the day after 
they had become separated and had returned to Bol'sheretsk already 
on August 18. Walton, on the other hand, had proceeded farther 
south than Spanberg— to latitude 43°N. — and come about only on 
August 22, reaching Bol'sheretsk on September 4. Neither Spanberg 
nor Walton had sighted Hokkaido, though Spanberg reached the 
latitude where it was purported to lie and Walton penetrated even 



to the latitude where it was in tact situated. Neither Spanberg nor 
Walton had attempted to land on any of the Kuril Islands; they had 
entered the islands on a map (though inaccurately) but without tak- 
ing time to explore them. And yet the Russian push toward Japan 
had entered a new phase. The new vessels had easily traversed waters 
that the fragile crafts of earlier days could only have negotiated with 
difficulty, if at all. Spanberg and Walton had seen islands that Kozy- 
revskii and his contemporaries had known only by hearsay. 31 

On June 1, 1739, earlier in the season than the preceding year, 
Spanberg and his companions started out again, this time accom- 
panied by a fourth vessel, the eighteen-oar sloop Bolsheretsk which 
had been constructed during the winter out of birch wood in the 
harbor in whose honor it was named. Four days later they reached 
the first Kuril Island where an interpreter was taken aboard and 
where, for some undetermined reason, Walton and Shelting ex- 
changed command of their ships — Walton transferring onto the 
Sviatoi Gavriil, Shelting onto the Nadezhda. On June 12, the Russian 
vessels set course for Japan, but not by way of the Kuril Islands as 
in the previous year. Instead, they steered southward into the open 
sea, hoping to reach the so-called Land of Gama. When, contrary to 
the assertion of the geographer Guillaume Deslisle, the apocryphal 
Land of Gama failed to materialize, they altered course at latitude 
42 °N. and headed southwest to latitude 39°N. and thence due west. 
On June 25 the Sviatoi Gavriil, separated from the squadron al- 
legedly because of damages sustained in a heavy storm, but possibly 
because Walton, like other subordinate commanders of his day, 
wished to do some exploring on his own. 82 

On June 27, Spanberg and his companions sighted at long last 
the northeastern shores of the Japanese main island at about latitude 
39 N. and followed down the coast for two days, casting anchor on 
the 18th at latitude 38°4i'N. off the east coast of Iwate Prefecture. 
The Russians were dazzled by the luxurious vegetation of the country- 
side that stretched out before them, all the greener by comparison 
with the barren shores of Okhotsk and Kamchatka. They were im- 
pressed also by the numerous settlements that dotted the coastline. 
Two boats came within close view, and the Russians motioned them 

si Znamenskii, 89-92; Golder, Russian Expansion, 174-175, 221-222; Tabohashi Kiyoshi, 
Kindai Nihon gaikoku kankei-shi, 52. 

32 Znamenskii, 92-93; Berg, 98; Golder, Russian Expansion, 222-223; Efimov, Iz istorii 
velikikh, 184; F. A. Golder, Bering's Voyages, 11, 14 note 18. According to the diary of 
Sven Waxell the ships were separated by fog. (Hirabayashi, 324.) 



to pull up. The Japanese would not come nearer, but in turn beck- 
oned the Russians to land. This Spanberg did not dare to do, and 
weighing anchor sailed farther south. On July 3 he cast anchor again 
at approximately latitude 38°23' N., off Aji-shima, Ojika County, 
in the province of Mutsu in the domain of the lord of Sendai. 33 

The Russian ships had been sighted here and there along the coast 
and reports poured into Sendai from everywhere. Even from aboard 
the ships the excitement on shore could be discerned. At one place 
Spanberg dispatched the Bolsheretsk to within less than a mile and 
a half of the coast. But he did not dare to effect a landing. The Jap- 
anese, on the other hand, in spite of the strictest prohibitions, seemed 
anxious to deal with the foreigners. Already at sea, near the tiny 
island Tashirohama, fisherman Kisabei had audaciously boarded one 
of the Russian vessels and stared at the tall strangers. Now two 
junks laden with foodstuffs, tobacco, and gold coins pulled alongside 
and began a spirited trade. Before long officials, headed by Chiba 
Kanshichiro, arrived from Sendai. Without fear or hostility but 
with the greatest politeness they approached Spanberg, who received 
them with due hospitality, treating them to wine and food, showing 
them about the ship, and handing gifts of fur to their servants. The 
Kurilian interpreters whom Spanberg had brought along proved 
valueless. Nevertheless a great many thoughts can be conveyed by 
gestures. To confirm his whereabouts Spanberg produced a map and 
a globe. The Japanese readily pointed out Japan, saying "Nippon, 
Nippon," reassuring Spanberg that he had indeed found the way. 
And though he had instructions not to disclose the approaches to 
Russia, Spanberg took this opportunity to point out to Chiba the 
proximity of Russia to Japan. 34 

Meamvhile the number of small boats that milled about the squad- 
ron had increased until some eight hundred or more Japanese on 
seventy-nine boats surrounded the Russians. As yet they showed no 
signs of hostility, but one could hardly foretell how long the interest 
of the onlookers would remain one of amicable curiosity, and Span- 
berg withdrew into the open sea and headed back north. As he passed 
Tashirohama Island, a settlement elder by the name of Zembei visited 
the flagship. Again Japanese and Russian eyed each other with mu- 

33 Tokutomi Iichiro, Kinsei Nihon kokumin-shi, xxm, 141-142; Znamenskii, 93-94; 
Berg, 98; Hirabayashi, 323. 

s* Znamenskii, 93-96; Zhukov, 27; Golder, 223-224. See also D. M. Pozdneev, Materialy 
po istorii severnoi Iaponii i eia otnoshenii k materiku Azii i Rossii, n, 2:18-19; Captain 
James Burney, A Chronological History of North-eastern Voyages of Discovery, 152-153. 



tual curiosity. As always, Japanese garments called for comment: 
"Their dress is white and fastened with a band round the body. 
The sleeves are wide, like those on a European dressing gown, but 
without gores. None were seen with trousers and all went barefoot. 
Their shame they either tied up or covered with a piece of silken 
cloth or linen." 35 When Zembei bowed his head, one of the Russians 
could not resist the temptation of stroking it. His hand became all 
greasy from the oily hairdo and everybody laughed heartily. Zembei 
did not take offense. He was too engrossed in making mental notes 
of everything. When he went back on shore he made a full report of 
what he had observed to the lord of Sendai. 36 Sailing north Spanberg 
explored the southern Kuril Islands. Then on July 5 he briefly re- 
approached the shores of Japan at Hokkaido near latitude 41 ° N. 
before finally resuming his homeward voyage. 

While Spanberg was thus carefully probing the shores of Japan, 
receiving Japanese visitors here and there, yet not daring to touch 
land, Walton actually broke the isolation of Japan and sent his men 
onto Japanese soil. As will be recalled, Walton had separated from 
the squadron on June 25. On June 27 he came upon the southeastern 
shore of Honshu at about latitude 37°42 / N. and turned southward. 
On June 30 the Sviatoi Gavriil cast anchor in the open sea at about 
latitude 35°io'N. near Amatsu Village in Nagasa County in the 
province of Awa (Chiba Prefecture) and sent ashore a boat with 
Kazimirov, his second navigator, a navigator's mate and six seamen 
to obtain fresh water. 

More than a hundred Japanese boats came forth to meet the boat 
and surrounded it so closely that the Russians could hardly row. As 
the latter persisted, however, the Japanese took no measures to turn 
them back. On land the Russians were greeted politely and helping 
hands quickly filled their water barrels, possibly in the hope of ex- 
pediting their departure. When Navigator Kazimirov left two soldiers 
to guard the boat and with Navigator's Mate Vereshchagin and the 
remaining four sailors proceeded to town, no effort was made to 
harass them. On the contrary, Kazimirov was invited into Japanese 
houses and regaled with wine, rice, fruit, and various delicacies. 
These Russians — the first of their countrymen to set foot in Japan — 
viewed everything with fascination; they were particularly impressed 

ss Sven Waxell, The American Expedition, 83-84. 

36 Japanese sources cite the names and impressions of common Japanese who saw the 
Russians. See, for example, Motoyama Keisen, Mamiya Rinzo tairiku kiku, 24-25. 



to see about them so much unaccustomed cleanliness and order. 
Returning to his boat, Kazimirov espied a two-sworded samurai and 
companion standing nearby, but though he was alarmed at their 
presence, they did not interfere. 

As the Russians rowed back to their ship, they were followed by a 
multitude of boats. A Japanese official in costly robes came aboard 
the Sviatoi Gavriil with red wine and exchanged presents and drinks 
with Walton while a brisk trade developed between the sailors and 
the Japanese, the former selling a number of trifles, mostly old shirts 
and stockings for a quantity of copper coin. Nevertheless the potential 
danger of a boarding attack by the numerically superior Japanese, 
who crowded about the vessel on some one hundred boats, made it 
seem unwise to tarry overnight, and upon the departure of the official, 
Walton weighed anchor, discharging one of his cannons in salute. 
Unlike Spanberg he did not withdraw to the north right away, but 
pushed farther south, casting anchor here and there along the Japa- 
nese coast. On July 3, he stood close to shore and requested fresh 
water from some Japanese who had approached the vessel. The 
Japanese brought the water and even offered to lead the Sviatoi 
Gavriil into port. This Walton would not risk. He continued south- 
ward and the following day (July 4) at about latitude 33°28' N. cast 
anchor and sent several men ashore to gather medical herbs and some 
tokens of Japan. On July 5, in the general vicinity of Katsuura on 
the east coast of Wakayama Prefecture, Walton turned back and 
headed homeward. 

When the Russians departed, the Japanese officials turned to their 
reports. The Russians had been received with politeness if not friend- 
liness. Only once, as their southward journey brought them relatively 
close to the Japanese capital, had an official seemed to order his 
countrymen not to deal with them. Elsewhere Japanese officials them- 
selves had sought out the Russians and had interchanged civilities. 
At least so the Russian records state, and we have no reason to ques- 
tion them on this point. The Japanese reports, though they corrobo- 
rate Russian data as to the number of men who landed and as to the 
houses they entered, studiously avoid any reference to signs of 
welcome. The Russians are portrayed as having entered the Japanese 
houses without invitation and as having helped themselves to what- 
ever they wanted. The Japanese records could not have stated 
otherwise. The officials were committed to the exclusion of foreigners. 
A report describing the amicable reception of the intruders on land 



would have been no less than a confession of neglect of duty. Thus 
the official who visited Walton aboard ship was described as having 
followed the vessel out to sea without catching up with it. 37 

The story of the expedition, narrated above, was pieced together 
from both Japanese and Russian sources. At the time of the events 
neither the Japanese nor the Russians saw the whole picture. The 
Japanese did not know the foreigners were Russians until two coins 
and a card with a cross, which the Russians had left behind, were 
identified by the Dutch on Deshima as coins "from the Muscovia 
country" and an ace of clubs. At first their information was limited 
to such eyewitness descriptions of the strangers as that of the priest 
Ryumon who reported: "Their appearance resembled that of Dutch- 
men, with red wavy hair and caps of various kinds. Their noses were 
long and pointed. Their eyes were the color of sharks. The trunks 
of their bodies, however, were normal just like those of ordinary 
people." 38 From the Dutch the Japanese learned more about the 
Spanberg expedition. 39 The Russians knew only the latitude of the 
place where they had cast anchor or gone ashore. The place names 
have come to us from Japanese sources. Yet the Russians knew that 
they had been in Japan and were pleased with what they had seen. 
"The members of the party were loud in proclaiming their pleasure 
at having been able to visit the country, declaring that Japan was 
indeed a nation with whom friendly relations must be formed." 40 

The impact of the Spanberg expedition on Japan was not great. 
The first arrival of the Russians aroused little concern. Certainly it 
created no panic. The Shogunate decreed that the foreigners be cap- 
tured if they landed, but be allowed to flee if they chose to do so. 
Dissatisfied that his ancestors should have treated these ships like ordi- 
nary ones, a modern Japanese historian has commented in disgust: 
"They had no way of knowing that these ships had been especially 
dispatched to investigate the conditions of Japan. Even after they 
learned from the Dutch that they had been Russian ships they did 
not urge precautions. There were a great many Shogunate officials 
who ignored the existence of foreign countries." 41 

37 Znamenskii, 96-101; Pozdneev, 11, 2:19-20; Golder, Russian Expansion, 225-226; 
Okamoto Ryunosuke, Nichi-Ro kosho Hokkaido shiko, 1:47-48; Burney, 156-157; 
Hirabayashi, 323; Waxell, 79; Tabohashi Kiyoshi, "Junana-hachi seki ni watareru 
Rokoku no Taiheiyo hatten to tai-Nichi kankei," 503-506. 

38 Hirabayashi, 327. 

39 Inobe Shigeo, Ishin zenshi no kenkyu, 37-38; Kono Tsunekichi, "Anei izen Matsumae- 
han to Rojin to no kankei," 663; Tabohashi, "Junana-hachi," 506-507. 

4° Hirabayashi, 328. « Inobe, 38. 



One wonders what would have happened it' Spanberg and Wall on 
had not hastened back to Russia but had taken advantage of the 
apparent amicability of the Japanese to attempt the establishment 
of friendly relations. To be sure the Shogunate was still committed 
to the seclusion policy and troops were in fact dispatched to forestall 
inroads and if possible to capture the intruders, but Japanese efforts 
were only half-hearted. It is unlikely that Japan would have opened 
her doors, but negotiations would have been of mutual edification, 
and Spanberg would have been in a stronger position upon his 
return to Russia to refute the arguments of his critics. 

The homeward journey was a difficult one for the Russian vessels. 
Many of the crew members were ill and the flagship alone counted 
thirteen dead. Walton on the Sviatoi Gavriil returned to Bol'sheretsk 
on August 5, 1739. 42 The other vessels were unable to keep together. 
Ert on the Bolsheretsk reached Bol'sheretsk on August 8, Spanberg 
on the Arkhangel Mikhail on August 25, Shelting on the Nadezhda 
on September 11. From Bol'sheretsk the ships continued to Okhotsk. 
The Sviatoi Gavriil and Bolsheretsk arrived on September 2, the 
Arkhangel Mikhail on September 9. Shelting on the Nadezhda was 
driven back by heavy storms and did not get through till the following 
season. Together or not, the four vessels had found their way back 
from Japan. The northern route linking Russia with Japan had been 
traversed in both directions. The squadron had blazed the trail for 
later expeditions. The explorers had every reason to return with high 
hopes and high hearts. Whatever dreams of praise and rewards they 
may have cherished, however, were soon dispelled. The first Russian 
penetration to the very main island of Japan was capped by a 
dramatic anticlimax: the Russian authorities refused to believe that 
Spanberg and Walton had actually visited the shores of Japan! 

There were a number of reasons for this strange turn of events. 
The findings of Spanberg and Walton ran counter to accepted beliefs. 
Deslisle, Strahlenberg, Kirilov, and other cartographers had recorded 
the apocryphal Land of Gama and Staaten Eyland, yet Spanberg and 
Walton had found neither. Spanberg and Walton had also failed to 
sight the tremendous Hokkaido of contemporary maps; nor had they 
located Japan where it was supposed to be. Not even Bering, their 
commander-in-chief, could trust their findings. The journals of Span- 
berg and Walton did contain technical errors. Attempts by the 
Admiralty College to rework their calculations and chart their course 

42 Colder gives the date as August 3. 



on a map were unsuccessful. Skorniakov-Pisarev, with whom Span- 
berg and quarrelled when building and equipping the vessels and 
whom Bering had likened to a 'mad dog" when he advised his 
subordinates not to associate with him, sought to discredit the expedi- 
tion by informing the Senate that Spanberg and Walton had been 
to Korea rather than to Japan. Even the members of the expedition 
tried to discredit each other. 

No doubt the strain of dangers and privations, life at close quarters, 
and the monotony of daily chores conspire to knock many a head 
together at sea. The Russian expeditions had considerably more than 
their share of dissension. The traditional veneration of foreigners in 
St. Petersburg was transformed to jealousy and national rivalry in 
the wilderness. And so Spanberg the Dane disliked Walton the 
Englishman and neither had much use for their Russian subordinates. 
In the words of Golder: "Spanberg complained that Petrof, his pilot, 
was a drunkard. Petrof said that Spanberg made him change the 
journal and cursed him in German and Russian and threatened to 
hang him. Walton said that Kasimerof, one of his officers, was dis- 
obedient, would not stand his watch, nor keep the journal. Kasimerof 
charged that Walton beat him. Walton and the priest accused Span- 
berg of mistreating them. The crews swore that Spanberg and Walton 
abused them. . . . Bering examined Spanberg's log book, finding 
there many errors, and Spanberg detected in Walton's enough faults 
to fill a sixteen page notebook." 43 

Spanberg set out for the capital to clarify matters in person. It was 
characteristic of the confusion that surrounded his expedition to 
Japan that he was not permitted to reach St. Petersburg. At Yakutsk 
he was halted by orders from the Admiralty College. Subsequently 
he was commanded by the Imperial Cabinet to resume his voyage 
posthaste. At Kirensk, not far beyond Yakutsk, however, new orders 
from the Admiralty College forced him to turn back and try to 
discover Japan all over again. 

Unfortunately Spanberg's second expedition was less successful 
than the first. When he returned to Okhotsk in August 1740, he found 
that Bering and Chirikov required all available provisions for their 
own voyage to Kamchatka and North America. He had to retrace 
his steps to Yakutsk and there prepare supplies. Not until June of 
the following year (1741) did he come back to Okhotsk. By this time 

4 3 Golder, Russian Expansion, 226-227; Znamenskii, 101-105. 


The Apocryphal Staaten Eyland 
and Land of Garaa 


it was too late to set sail for Japan and Spanberg could go no further 
than Bol'sheretsk, where he waited until the summer of 1742. 

In Okhotsk Spanberg's old vessels had been refurbished and a new 
seventy-foot-long packet boat, the Sviatoi Ioann, constructed in place 
of Walton's former vessel, the Sviatoi Gavriil. But the old vessels 
were no longer as seaworthy as before. During the passage to Bol'she- 
retsk the brigantine Arkhangel Mikhail lost her main mast and the 
double-sloop Nadezhda, which went out of the way to survey the west- 
ern coast of the Sea of Okhotsk and sail among the Shantar Islands, 
sprung a leak. Before long even the new vessel, hastily constructed 
out of raw timber, was to prove unsatisfactory. 

Walton was no longer with Spanberg. He had been promoted to 
captain and had been called to St. Petersburg, but died on the way 
in 1741. The Sviatoi Ioann, which Spanberg captained himself, was 
manned by seventy-eight persons, including a son of Spanberg and 
two interpreters, Shenanykin and Fenev, who had studied Japanese 
under the castaways Gonzo and Sozo. The Arkhangel Mikhail, 
Spanberg's former flagship, now commanded by Shelting was manned 
by forty persons, the Nadezhda under the command of Ptizhev by 
thirty-three persons, the Bolsheretsk under Navigator Kasin by 

On June 3, 1742 the four vessels set sail for Japan for the third 
time. They reached the northernmost Kuril island together, but as 
they continued to the southwest were separated one by one from 
each other by recurrent fog: first the Arkhangel Mikhail fell behind, 
then the Nadezhda, then the Bolsheretsk. Once again Spanberg had 
to approach the shores of Japan alone. The weather cleared up and, 
though the winds remained unfavorable, it was the proper time for 
crossing these waters. On July 3 Spanberg called together his officers 
to decide whether to continue the voyage. They were then at latitude 
4i°45' N. and by their own calculation not far from Japan. The dan- 
ger of cruising without escort, persistent unfavorable winds, and ill- 
ness aboard ship inclined most of the officers towards turning back. 
Others disagreed, and it was finally decided to continue the search for 
Japan until July 17. But a week later, on July 11 at about latitude 
39°35' N. the hastily constructed Sviatoi Ioann sprung a large leak 
and without further question had to hasten homeward. When it 
reached the first Kuril island (July 25), it found the other three ves- 
sels at anchor. Only the Arkhangel Mikhail had attempted to seek 



out Japan, but though it had penetrated down to latitude 38°3o' N. 
had been no more successful than the Sviatoi Ioann. 

From the first Kuril island the Sviatoi Ioann proceeded in the 
company of the Arkhangel Mikhail and Bolsheretsk to Kamchatka 
and then to Okhotsk, where the three vessels arrived on September 
6. The brigantine Nadezhda, meanwhile, had been put once again 
under the command of Shelting, who sailed from the Kuril island to 
chart with the assistance of geodesist Gvozdev the Okhotsk coast from 
the Uda River down to the Amur Estuary. On August 1 2 at latitude 
50°io' N. Shelting came upon the eastern shore of Sakhalin Island — 
the first Russian explorer to do so — and turning southward pushed 
down to latitude 45 ° 34' N. But he mistook Sakhalin for Hokkaido 
and in the thick fog, which blanketed the ocean, not only failed to 
chart the shores of Sakhalin but also to notice that he had reached 
the strait which separates Sakhalin and Hokkaido. Fog and head 
winds forced him to turn back (August 28) and on September 21 he 
rejoined the squadron at Okhotsk. 

Spanberg's second expedition thus failed to unravel the contra- 
dictions of the first. If anything, it added to the confusion. Symbolic 
of its failure was the tragic death of Bering, who had fathered these 
voyages. On his way back from North America and the Aleutian 
Islands in 1741, Bering's vessel, the packet boat Sviatoi Petr, was 
wrecked on the island, which now bears his name, and he and many 
of his crew died there. Spanberg had launched his second expedition 
before news of Bering's death reached him, but from the very 
beginning the renewed attempts to find Japan lacked the means and 
stimulus of the first. It remained for a special commission appointed 
by the Admiralty College to determine where Spanberg and Walton 
had actually been in 1739. After careful study the commission finally 
concluded in 1 746 that Walton had without doubt been at the eastern 
shores of Japan and that Spanberg, though this seemed far less certain, 
had probably been there too. It is only when we examine contempo- 
rary Japanese records that we can prove that Walton and Spanberg 
both had definitely carried the Russian flag to the shores of Japan. 44 

44 Golder, Russian Expansion, 226-230; Znamenskii, 105-107. 




JP^ir^"lnE so-called Bering expeditions were of geographical 
^Jj£ importance. The diverse voyages of Bering, Chirikov, 

XSpanberg, and Walton changed the cartographical face of 
the northern Pacific Ocean. In this their "negative" find- 
ings were of significance. Gone was the apocryphal Land of Gama 
from the comprehensive Russian atlas published by the Academy of 
Sciences in 1745. Gone also were Staaten Eyland and Compagnies 
Land, and in their place there remained merely two insignificant 
Kuril islands. The oversized Ezo (Hokkaido) which had stretched 
to the very shores of the continent had shrunk; too much so in fact, 
for it was represented only in part by the island "Matushka." On the 
positive side, the northern and central Kuril Islands were portrayed 
quite accurately, as was the northern Pacific coast. Unfortunately this 
atlas of "the whole Russian empire and bordering lands" extended 
only as far as latitude 40 N. in the south and thus encompassed 
but a fragment of Japan, leaving unexploited some of Spanberg's 
and Walton's efforts. On the other hand, it went beyond the findings 
of the mariners in projecting vis-a-vis the mouth of the Amur River 
the northern part of Sakhalin Island under the name "Sagalien." This 
data had been gleaned from French maps based on the surveys of 
Jesuits who in the early eighteenth century had been commissioned 
by Emperor K'ang Hsi to chart the whole Manchu Chinese Empire. 
The Jesuit maps referred to the Amur River by its local name, 
"Sagalien-ula" (Black River) and to the island at its mouth as 
"Sagalien-anga-hata" (Island at the mouth of the Black River), a rela- 
tionship of terms which was to be used over a century later by a 
Russian negotiator in the argument that China's cession to Russia 
of the northern bank of the Amur River (1858) embraced also the 
cession of strategic Sakhalin Island. 1 

The Bering expeditions had found the northern route to Japan. 
Walton had penetrated within easy reach of the capital. Spanberg 
and Walton both had met Japanese officials. These officials, however, 
had been minor ones, and neither Spanberg nor Walton had nego- 

1 Znamenskii, 108-110; Berg, 99. As Ravenstein points out, Sakhalin alone means no 
more than "black." Local natives referred to the island as Taraika or Choka; the 
Japanese called it Karafuto or Oku-Ezo (p. 265). 



tiated — nor indeed tried to negotiate — the establishment of diplo- 
matic or commercial relations. Yet the desirability of trade with 
Japan was obvious. The dependence of Siberia on European Russia 
for supplies needed in the development of Kamchatka and the eastern 
regions was costly and time-consuming. Trade with Japan might well 
do more than delight aristocratic palates with exotic luxuries — it 
might furnish the far-flung Russian Empire with essential commodi- 
ties. Herein lies at least a partial explanation of the persistent recur- 
rence of Russian attempts to enter into dealings with the Japanese. 
Nevertheless for several decades after the flagging conclusion of the 
extravagant Bering expeditions the Russian government, which since 
the death of Peter the Great had provided expeditions with less 
stimulus than backing, left the initiative for renewed contacts with 
the Japanese increasingly in private hands. 

The private attempts to establish commercial relations with Japan 
were once again routed step by step down the Kuril Islands. The 
academician Fedor Miller, who had been associated with the Bering 
expedition, had written about the importance of the Amur River as 
an artery of trade with China, Japan, and India (1741). Chirikov had 
elaborated on the strategic necessity of Russian access to the Amur, 
not only as a convenient route of communication with Kamchatka, 
but as a step without which it would not be possible for Russia to 
subjugate the territories and peoples to the east, and had recom- 
mended the establishment of a wharf in the mouth of the Amur 
(1746). 2 But though the government shared these views and in 1756 
sent Councilor Bratishchev to Peking in order to secure Manchu 
consent, the mission failed, and Russian expansion was perforce 
directed once again via the Kuril Islands. Chirikov clearly recognized 
the strategic importance of the Kuril Archipelago to the Russian 
Empire, both as a gateway to the Pacific and a shield against foreign 
encroachment on her far eastern domains, and urged the exploitation 
of one of the islands as a naval base. 3 The government failed to follow 
this lead and it remained for local individuals on their own to extend 
the Russian frontier in this direction. 

The first Cossack voyages to the northernmost Kuril Islands had 
been carried out to curry favor and forgiveness of the government, 
as well as rob the natives of furs. Plunder still remained a powerful 

2 Kiuner, 14; V. A. Divin, Velikii russkii moreplavatel' A. I. Chirikov, 209-211. Miller 
was not the first to think of such a route. A similar project can be found in European 
literature as early as 1681. 

3 Divin, gi 1; Sgibnev, "Popytki," 45. 



incentive, but now a more respectable commercial motivation can 
be discerned. Not only were the populous southern Kuril Islands 
themselves rich in peltry, but their proximity to Japan, particularly 
in view of reported Japanese visits, gave rise to the hope of indirect 
trade with Japan by way of the Kurils. 

The Ainu who inhabited the Kuril Islands (as well as southern 
Sakhalin and Hokkaido) were a bearded lot. The Japanese referred 
to them as "hairy barbarians." And hairy they were, when compared 
with the Oriental peoples about them. The Russians agreed that the 
Ainu were "shaggy." Unlike the Japanese, the Russians were bearded 
themselves, and more than one Russian traveler observed that these 
hairy natives reminded him of the peasants back home, if not of "real 
Muscovites." The Kuril Ainu, a proto-Caucasian people, led a 
primitive existence. They knew neither agriculture nor animal-hus- 
bandry. They subsisted on hunting, and gathering roots and berries. 
Their less primitive objects (metal utensils, swords, knives, lacquer- 
ware, and silk and cotton fabrics), they obtained from the Japanese in 
exchange primarily for the skins of local sea and land animals, dried 
fish, blubber, and eagle feathers. Not all the Ainu were in direct 
contact with the Japanese. The Ainu of Kunashiri Island were the 
ones who traded with the Japanese when they came to Kunashiri or 
else when they themselves traveled to Hokkaido. From them the 
natives of Etorofu and Uruppu obtained the Japanese products and 
in turn took them to the more northerly islands and even to Kam- 
chatka, until the inroads of the Russians in the north made this too 
dangerous. Frequently Shasukotan Island served as trade center, 
attracting Ainu from the north and south for barter. So far, the Kuril 
Islands were neither Russian nor Japanese, though footholds had 
been gained at both ends of the archipelago. The Ainu were not 
united politically and their consequent weakness was a standing 
invitation to adventurers from the north and south, who soon were 
to advance toward each other with equal ruthlessness and disregard 
of native rights. 

Whatever controversy the reports of Spanberg and Walton had 
aroused concerning their visit to the shores of Japan, did not extend 
to the description of the Kuril Archipelago. Their accounts of the 
furry wealth of these islands, multiplied by the stories of Bering's 
associates about the great riches of the Aleutians, precipitated a mad 
scramble of fortune hunters down the islands. As they set out on 
flimsy crafts, hastily knocked together with raw timber, wooden nails, 



and other inadequate substitutes, without even the most elementary 
knowledge of navigation, and lacking the most essential supplies, 
many were destined to perish. But those who survived, returned 
richly rewarded for their efforts and by their success encouraged 
others to try for the same. It was everyone for himself, the interest 
of officials at Okhotsk being confined to a ten per cent levy on private 
peltry. Only when the chaotic descents of the hunters threatened to 
result in the extinction of the precious furbearing animals, did the 
authorities step in and seek to control private enterprise. Following 
an inquiry of Governor Soimonov of Siberia in 1759, the fur-hunters 
(promyshlenniki) were required to secure permission to build new 
vessels. These now became larger and sturdier (including two-masted, 
cramp-iron-braced gvozdenniki and genuine sea-going vessels). The 
resulting expense forced the small capitalists, who had dominated the 
scene, to merge their resources with larger companies, an experience 
shared by the early American China traders. At the same time the 
Okhotsk region replaced Kamchatka as the center of shipbuilding, 
since the necessary permission was available at Okhotsk, and because 
suitable men and materials could more readily be found there. 

The Aleutians and the northwestern shores of America bore the 
brunt of Russian penetration, because they excelled the Kuril Islands 
in peltry and at times were less hamstrung by government interfer- 
ence. Spanberg had returned from the Kurils without a single fur; 
Chirikov who had visited the Aleutians and America brought back 
many furs, including some nine hundred beaver skins. In succeeding 
years hunters extracted their share from the Kuril Islands, but never 
in such quantities as from the Aleutians. Still, fortunes were made 
on the Kurils, and in 1757 a merchant's clerk felt satisfied enough 
to erect a chapel to St. Nicholas on Shimushu Island in gratitude. 
The government too could expect a handsome haul if it succeeded 
in imposing tribute on the inhabitants of all the Kuril Islands, and 
the various tribute collectors were exhorted by both local and 
Siberian authorities to push farther south. 4 

As the Russians continued southward, they were bound sooner or 
later to come into contact with the northward-moving Japanese. In 
1744 the Russian Novograblennyi was informed on Makanru Island 
by Kurilians who had been on Shimushiru that a Japanese high 
official from Kunashiri had asked them to inform the Russians to 
bring their wares to his island. Novograblennyi forwarded this re- 

» Znamenskii. 1 1 1-122. 



quest to Bol'sheretsk, enclosing a map of the Kuril Archipelago pre- 
pared by himself, indicating settlements as well as species of animals. 
The following year, in 1745, tribute collector Slabodchikov found 
ten starving Japanese on Onekotan Island. Together with seven other 
companions, who had since died of privation, they had sailed from 
Matsumae toward Shimushiru when the mast of their vessel broke, 
and they were tossed about helplessly for months. Finally, they were 
cast ashore at Onekotan. 5 Thanks to the Russians, who fed them oil 
and fat and supported them as they attempted to walk again, the Jap- 
anese survivors gradually regained their strength. From Yusancheya, 
one of the castaways, Slabodchikov learned that Shimushiru was noted 
for its abundance of gold and silver, that it housed factories in which 
damask and velvet were produced, that to the south of Shimushiru 
there were lands rich in lumber, and on Atkis (Akkeshi on Hok- 
kaido) 6 there was a fine harbor, frequented by large Matsumae vessels 
in quest of beaver and eagle feathers. 

Meanwhile the exactions of Russian tribute collectors in the 
northernmost Kuril Islands precipitated a mass exodus of Ainu. The 
instructions of the Department of Siberian Affairs of 1731 had envis- 
aged the levy as one beaver skin per native, but the tribute collectors, 
as they extended their activities southward, recording the names of 
the natives in their books, would enter the name of anyone they met, 
regardless of whether they had already entered his name elsewhere. 
Thus, while the necessities of the hunt carried the Ainu from island 
to island, many found themselves hit by several levies of tribute 
collectors. They therefore fled farther south to escape new exactions. 
This the Russians would not tolerate, regarding the refugees very 
much like escaped serfs, and demanded their return, meanwhile 
holding responsible those who had remained for their own tribute 
as well as the tribute of those who had fled. In the years 1750 to 1753 
the Russian commander of Shimushu Island and several native elders 
toured some sixteen islands in an attempt to persuade the fugitives 
to return, but the latter would not hear of it and almost killed one 
of the elders, though in most cases they agreed to pay tribute. The 
farther south the Russians pushed the more reluctant they found 
the natives. On tiny Ushishiru only ten natives furnished tribute; on 
larger Shimushiru all categorically refused to become Russian sub- 

s Sgibnev lists the island as the fifth island; Onekotan would be the fourth. Znamen- 
skii gives the number of survivors as nine; he says the vessel was en route to Samur. 

e Atkis or Akkeshi was a place on Ezo (Hokkaido). Occasionally, however, it was 
mistaken by Russians as a separate island. 



jects or to pay tribute. By 1761 Governor Soimonov complained that 
tribute was being collected from only three or four of the Kuril 
Islands. 7 

Soimonov's interest was not confined to the collection of tribute. 
He had learned from Japanese in Irkutsk that the Kuril Islands down 
to and including Kunashiri were independent of Japan and that 
control of them would facilitate the establishment of commercial 
relations with the latter. Hence he instructed Colonel Plenesner, 
commandant of the forts of Okhotsk, Anadyrsk, and Kamchatka, to 
investigate the islands carefully and, if possible, to bring them into 
the Russian Empire. At the same time, he petitioned the Senate to 
permit private fur-hunters to exploit the islands again in the expecta- 
tion that private enterprise, as in Siberia, would hasten expansion 
into new territories, while lightening the load on public funds. 

Plenesner did not further the exploration of the Kuril Islands. 
But Izvekov, who a year later became commandant of Kamchatka, 
did so after Chikin-Novograblennyi, Kurilian elder of the second 
island, requested permission to join with his fellow elder Chuprov 
of the first island and with the Cossack leader Chernyi to set out after 
the fugitives and to subjugate the Kurilians to the south. 

The instructions which were drawn up for the leaders of this little 
expedition by the Bol'sheretsk Command in 1766 were rather far- 
sighted. They prohibited explicitly the abuse of the natives. Chernyi 
was ordered, when exhorting the Kurilians to become Russian sub- 
jects, to persuade them of the goodness of Russian conduct and 
treatment both by word and deed, not to extort from them anything 
by force, and to practice restraint when asking them to enter a 
tributary relationship. The instructions expressed interest in the 
way of life and standard of living of the Kurilians and in the type of 
weapons which they used, particularly whether they had firearms. 
The expedition was to investigate secretly whether the natives traded 
already with someone else and whether they owed allegiance to 
another power. It was to gather as much information as possible about 
the activities of the Japanese, if they came to these islands, and bring 
back samples of Japanese products obtained in exchange for the 
Russian and Chinese goods which they would take along, though 
under no circumstances in exchange for guns or ammunition. In the 
instructions given earlier that year it stated further: "If there be 

7 Polonskii, 399-400; Sgibnev, 46; Znamenskii, 122-124. These and other Russian 
incursions in 1756, 1758 and 1759 were reported by the Ainu to the Japanese on 
Hokkaido. (Kono, 665-666.) 



found somewhere Japanese, cast there on a vessel or by some other 
way, or some other unknown peoples, they are to be brought to 
Bol'sheretsk, without antagonizing them in the least; furthermore, 
should there be anywhere those who have come to trade, to treat 
them kindly and politely to make inquiries at first hand." 8 

The expedition extended over a period of three years, from 1766 
to 1769. From the very outset it was marked by lack of organization. 
The three leaders set out independent of each other and wintered on 
different islands: Chikin-Novograblennyi on the twelfth, Chuprov on 
the seventh, Chernyi on the first. In spring 1767 Chikin-Novograb- 
lennyi and Chuprov made a common effort to penetrate to Shimu- 
shiru, but there Chikin-Novograblennyi died and Chuprov retraced 
his steps. Chikin-Novograblennyi had been the inspiration of the 
expedition. Making his way back, Chuprov came upon Chernyi, who 
now assumed command. This was unfortunate for the Cossack leader 
was unsuited for the peaceful incorporation of the natives of the 
Kuril Islands into the Russian Empire. In fact, he began with the 
subjugation of his own expedition, regimenting his followers to rise 
to the beating of drums, to line up in military formation, and march 
to work, giving emphasis to his orders with liberal lashes of his whip. 
The native oarsmen had little chance to rest. Whenever they stopped 
for any length of time he made them hunt beavers, sending their 
wives to hunt birds, and gather sweet herbs from which wine could 
be distilled. 

On the northern islands Chernyi found several fugitives, and 
ordered them to return to their old hunting grounds. As he proceeded 
farther south he found such a large number of fugitives that he did 
not dare order them back. He promised to permit them to stay where 
they were, in return for which they paid him tribute and joined him 
in his expedition southward. But when they found themselves subject 
to the same regimentation as the oarsmen they deserted him at the 
first opportunity. The opportunity came in the spring of 1768, when 
the expedition, after wintering on Shimushiru, tried to negotiate the 
crossing to Uruppu Island in a storm and was scattered in different 
directions. Nevertheless Chernyi made his way across safely and, 
pushing farther south than any of his countrymen had yet done on 
bidarkas, peacefully obtained tribute from the inhabitants of Uruppu 
and Etorofu. As he remained on Uruppu over the winter, stories of 
his tyranny spread and the islanders, on whose hunting grounds he 

sPolonskii, 410; Sgibnev, 46-47. 



had encroached, angrily cast away the tribute receipts he had given 
them and withdrew to Etorofu. As they did so, they begged the 
interpreters to ask on Kamchatka that Cliernyi and men like him 
not be sent again, wondering at the same time whether all Russians 
might not be like that. 

Chernyi, meanwhile, made the most of his good fortune, and 
immersed himself in wine and women, while fugitives and oarsmen 
toiled for him under the constant threat of his whip. On his way 
back from Uruppu he decided to immortalize his achievements by 
erecting in his own memory a wooden cross on one of the Chirihoi 
(Black Brothers) Islands, bearing the date of the event. When he 
reached Shimushiru, he found that the fugitives, who had accom- 
panied him southward on the promise that they would not have to 
return to their home islands, refused to proceed any farther north. 
He gave orders to whip them into obedience, but they scattered, the 
men hiding among the rocks of the island, the women and children 
putting out to sea on a bidarka. The bidarkas of those who had 
hidden, Chernyi had burned together with their possessions. The 
women, who had not succeeded in escaping, he had whipped and 
tied up and, taking along six of the men, he resumed his voyage 
northward. For a while he continued to mistreat those under him, but 
as he drew closer to home he began to change his conduct. He freed 
the fugitives and gave them gifts, discarded drum and whips, and 
generally treated his subordinates civilly after having exacted from 
them written pledges to keep silent about his previous transgressions. 
Not everyone remained silent and stories of his excesses came to the 
ears of the authorities. Chernyi and Chuprov were called to Irkutsk 
to elaborate on the brief written report submitted by Chernyi but, 
though a special investigation concerning Chernyi's conduct was 
begun, he escaped human punishment by succumbing to smallpox 
not long after his arrival in Irkutsk. 

Chernyi had accumulated a great fortune. He also left behind a 
journal of considerable geographical merit — the first direct descrip- 
tion of the northern and central Kuril Islands down to Etorofu, filled 
with detailed information concerning the nature of the islands, large 
and small. He reported that several Japanese vessels, with a crew of 
about twenty men each, visited Akkeshi and Kunashiri Island an- 
nually to trade for two or three months. Japanese products included 
wine, tobacco leaves, cereals, swords, knives, axes, and kettles. But 
helpful as Chernyi's contribution was in familiarizing the Russians 



with the Kuril Islands, it was outweighed by the unfortunate impres- 
sion of the Russians he had given the inhabitants of these islands. 
As a Russian historian notes, Chernyi demonstrated to them what 
Russian treatment was like in fact rather than in word. He had sown 
seeds of hatred that were to blossom into warfare when other Russians 
were to follow his trail. 9 

In spring 1770 a large number of Kurilians crossed over from 
Etorofu to Uruppu on one of their usual fishing trips. At Moshiho, 
where they went ashore with a good catch, they came upon a group 
of Russian hunters led by seafarer Sapozhnikov, who were wintering 
on the island. When the Russians spotted the natives, they demanded 
that they hand over their sea otters or leave hostages. Frightened, 
the natives began to apologize profusely and then suddenly, when 
the Russians seemed off guard, fled back onto their boats and paddled 
away. Shortly they separated into three groups. One went ashore at 
Chiyashikomanai, not far from where they had encountered the 
Russians; the other two proceeded to Monmoi and Furenai respec- 
tively. Early the next morning Russians found the first group and 
headed ashore. The Ainu rushed to their boats, but it was low tide 
and, having pulled them onto the beach the previous night, they 
could not launch them. They had to face the Russians where they 
were, prepared for the worst. Their poison arrows and short swords 
were no match for rifles, and when the Russians opened fire, killing 
their leader and two others, they took to the mountains. They made 
their way cross-country to Furenai, spreading word of what had 
happened. The Ainu were badly shaken. They had always come to 
Uruppu. Uruppu was considered part of Etorofu. Hence, "the com- 
ing of the Russians was an injustice from beginning to end." They 
did not have the power to withstand the Russians and, fearful of the 
consequences of another meeting, they returned to Etorofu. 

The following year, in 1771, the elders of Etorofu met in council. 
For years their people had been crossing over to Uruppu to catch 
sea otters, the skins of which they sold at Matsumae. Cut off from 
Uruppu they would be unable to make a living. The elders decided, 
therefore, not to give up hunting on Uruppu, but to go there again 
and to deal with the Russians, should they meet them, as circum- 
stances required. The Ainu buried their possessions in the ground 
and set out, leaving their homes in the care of the women and chil- 
dren, and a few old men. They had not been gone long when a party 

9 Polonskii, 412-420; Znamenskii, 125-128. 



of Russians arrived, raided their homes, unearthed their possessions, 
and hauled away whatever seemed of value, throwing the rest into 
the sea. 

When news of this misfortune was brought to the Ainu hunters 
by two of their people, it found them already outraged. The Russians 
of the same vessel had opened fire on them when they had tried to 
hunt on Uruppu Island at Waninau. Supported by other natives, par- 
ticularly those from Rashowa, where Russians had gone ashore four 
years earlier, they resolved to exterminate the Russians on Uruppu. 
They equipped themselves with lances — knives mounted on long 
sticks — and prepared a large supply of poison arrows. Then they 
separated into a number of groups to seek out the enemy. 

Rarely could the natives afford a frontal attack in the face of 
firearms. Whenever possible they would resort to treachery. At 
Sukomafu they received with a show of great hospitality a number 
of Russians who had made their way across the mountains from the 
eastern lagoon. They prepared a banquet in their honor, and gladly 
agreed to accommodate them for the night. When the Russians were 
asleep, they stole their weapons and at a given signal swooped down 
on them, spearing them to death. They had learned from the Rus- 
sians that some of their comrades had gone to Makanru Island in 
quest of sea lions; after hiding the corpses in the grass they set out 
for Makanru. When they arrived they found a number of Russians 
who had put up a large tent. They approached them with apparent 
humility and offered their services. Then they settled down near 
them and waited for nightfall. When the Russians were asleep the 
Ainu once again stole their weapons and killed them before they 
could resist. The Ainu were elated. Back on Uruppu, they shared 
their joy with the other islanders and, encouraged by their success, 
made plans to attack the main Russian stronghold at Waninau in the 
eastern lagoon. Skillfully hiding in the tall grass as they sneaked up 
to the Russian settlement, they launched a surprise attack. Several 
Russians were killed at once, others were killed as they fled aboard 
their vessel. From the vessel the Russians began to fire back and the 
Ainu withdrew. Pleased with their revenge, they returned to Etorofu 
to tell about the dozens of Russians they had killed. The figures 
which they relayed to Japanese chroniclers were exaggerated. Never- 
theless, Russian sources admit that when the vessel of merchant 
Protodiakonov, to which the hunters on Uruppu had belonged, 
returned to Petropavlovsk harbor in the fall of 1772 laden with two 



hundred and fifteen beaver skins, its crew, thanks to the efforts of 
the Ainu, had been reduced from thirty-nine to eighteen. 

In the meantime other Russians — the party of merchant Nikonov — 
penetrated to the same islands. They did not suffer similar casualties 
because the corpses which they found on Makanru and a warning 
sign erected on Uruppu prompted them to proceed with caution. 
They did not acquire many furs, however. Sapozhnikov would not 
tolerate a competitive party on Uruppu and turned them away on 
the grounds that he had cleared the island of natives. 

As one looks back at Russian penetration of the Kuril Islands in 
the generation after Spanberg's voyages, one is struck by the fact 
that, although the Russians were not yet firmly entrenched, they 
nevertheless acted as if the islands down to Uruppu were already 
part of the Russian empire. At the same time they were conscious of 
native resistance and the proximity of Japanese officials. When, in 
1772, they decided to fit out another expedition to explore the Kuril 
Archipelago and the Japanese Islands, they decided to go under the 
guise of a fishing expedition, but on a man-of-war. 10 Russian precau- 
tions were directed against the Kurilians rather than the Japanese. 
The latter had received the first Russian visitors without hostility, 
and, in spite of the seclusion policy, there was reason to hope that 
renewed contacts would again be amicable. The Russian government 
did not know that, meanwhile, a man, with a deep personal grudge 
against Russia, had appeared on the shores of Japan and, posing as 
a Russian officer, had tried to incite the Japanese to a preventive 
attack on Russia. This man was Mauritius Augustus, Count of 


In the last decade of the eighteenth century, the adventures of 
Mauritius Augustus Count of Benyovszky were the talk of Europe. 
Benyovszky 11 was a native of Verbo, Hungary (1746), 12 the son of an 

10 Sgibnev, "Popytki," 45-47; Okamoto, 1:48-51; Hyakka zuihitsu, 11, 120-121; Hok- 
kaido-cho, Shinsen Hokkaido-shi (hereafter cited as Hokkaido -shi), v, 1291-1294; 
Znamenskii, 128-130; Pozdneev, 11, 2:20-25; Kono, 668. 

11 "Benyovszky" is the Hungarian and probably most correct spelling of the name. 
Sgibnev notes that "Benevskii" signed as "Baron," sometimes as "Count Moritz Anadar- 
de Benev"; in Kamchatka he was usually known as "Beinosk" or "Beinak." (A. S. 
Sgibnev, "Istoricheskii ocherk glavneishikh sobytii v Kamchatke," 52.) Other variations 
of Benyovszky's name, with the authors by whom they are used in parentheses: Mau- 
ritius Augustus Count de Benyowsky (Captain Pasfield Oliver); Baron Moritz Aladar 
de-Benev (D. N. Bludov); Beniovskii (Bludov and A. A. Polovtsov); Beisposk (Ivan 



Austrian cavalry general. For a while lie served in some Austrian 
regiment and may have participated in a campaign in the Seven 
Years' War (1756-1763). In 1756, when visiting an uncle in Latvia, 
he learned that his cousins had taken possession of his estate in Hun- 
gary and returning, drove them out by armed force. For this he was 
tried and convicted at the court of Vienna as a rebel and disturber 
of the public peace, was deprived of his property, and banished from 
Hungary. 13 Benyovszky made his way to Poland and later on to 
Hamburg. There he learned navigation and undertook voyages to 
various places. 11 In 1767 he entered the services of the Polish Con- 
federates against Russia, was captured by the Russians (1768), and 
released on his word of honor never again to take up arms against 
Russia. A year later, in 1769, he was captured again by the Russians, 
weapons in hand, and was exiled to Kazan. Taking advantage of the 
fact that he was permitted to live in town, presumably on parole, he 
conspired, with his inseparable Swedish friend and assistant Adolf 
Wynbladth, 15 to escape. But the skipper of the vessel on which they 
planned to sail to freedom notified the authorities, and in December 
1769 Benyovszky and Wynbladth were exiled to distant Kamchatka. 
On the way to Kamchatka their galiot was overtaken by a heavy 
storm which exhausted the efforts of the crew. For a while, the two 
friends and three fellow-exile Russian officers thought of taking 
possession of the ship, but the season for navigating was almost over 
and they decided to bide their time. 

Planning an uprising on Kamchatka, Benyovszky enlisted Petr 
Khrushchev, an audacious captain of the guard, who had participated 
in a revolt against Catherine the Great in 1762. Assured of the sup- 
port of the officers with whom he had arrived, Benyovszky also gained 
the support of the various political exiles. Peter the Great had failed 

Riumin); M. A. Benovskii (V. I. Shtein); mr-Chevillart (Shtein); M. A. Beniowsky and 
Benyowszky (Dimitrii Pozdneev); Hanbengoro (most Japanese sources); Ausu (Okamoto 

12 In his memoirs Benyovszky states that he was born in 1741. Parish registers at 
Verb6 (Verbova) reveal, however, that he was born five years later. (William Nicholson, 
The Memoirs and Travels of Mauritius Augustus Count de Benyowsky, 30.) Verb6 in 
western Slovakia was the county seat; Benyovszky was actually born in the village of 
Benovo, from which his name seems derived. There one of my colleagues, Professor 
Victor S. Mamatey, saw a plaque in the years before World War II commemorating the 
birth of "General" Benyovszky. 

i3V. I. Shtein, "Samozvannyi imperator madagarskii (M. A. Benovskii)," 177; A. A. 
Polovtsov, Russkii Biograficheskii Slovar', 11, 693. 

14 Nicholson, 30-31; Polovtsov, 11, 693. 

is Spelled also "Vinblad" and "Vinbland." 



to provide for an orderly system of succession to the throne. For years 
after his death the imperial court was torn by the intrigues of rival 
factions. Guard officers were frequently implicated in such con- 
spiracies and exiled to Kamchatka after torture and public punish- 
ment — such as flagellation with the knout, ripping of the nostrils 
and cutting out of the tongue. On Kamchatka they would meet other 
political exiles who, like Benyovszky and Wynbladth, had fought for 
the independence of some non-Russian minority. The life of the 
exiles was extremely harsh. With only a few days' provisions, a gun, 
ammunition, an ax, and a knife to provide for their shelter and 
nourishment, they were reduced to the primitive existence of the 
natives, bullied by every commander, official, and common Cossack. 
In such circumstances many exiles succumbed; but there were others 
who would take any risk to escape. 16 

In addition to the exiles, the conspirators acquired the invaluable 
experience of Navigator Churin, commander of the government 
galiot Sviatoi Petr i Sviatoi Pavel, who faced courtmartial for insub- 
ordination and unpaid debts, and of sailors, workers, and other 
non-exiles. To gain their allegiance and to give some resemblance 
of legality to the rebellion, Benyovszky and his companions fabri- 
cated the rumor that they had been exiled as adherents of Grand 
Duke Pavel Petrovich, whose mother, Catherine the Great, had un- 
justly deprived him of the throne; Benyovszky even displayed a letter 
which Pavel Petrovich allegedly had entrusted to him for delivery 
to the Roman Emperor. For those not interested in the fortunes of 
Pavel Petrovich, Benyovszky and Khrushchev had still another story: 
the old legend of islands of gold and silver in the Pacific Ocean. 
These islands, they said, were not far away, and they promised that 
after they had found them, those who did not wish to continue to 
Europe could go ashore again on the Kamchatkan Peninsula. The 
true objectives of their plan the leaders kept to themselves. 

In those days the whole of Bol'sheretsk consisted of not more than 
thirty-five houses with a total garrison of seventy Cossacks, including 
minors and old men, many of them continuously away on missions. 
It is less surprising that the conspirators should have triumphed 
eventually, than that such a large plot was not discovered. As a mat- 
ter of fact it was discovered. But Captain Grigorii Nilov, the com- 
mandant of Kamchatka was old and decrepit and drunk. At the same 

i 6 Znamenskii, 131-132. 



time he had utter confidence in Benyovszky, who tutored his son. 17 
When reports of an impending uprising persisted, his subordinates 
finally prevailed on him to send several soldiers to arrest Benyovszky. 
These the conspirators took prisoner and made preparations for a 
night attack. Meanwhile two seamen who had learned of the impend- 
ing assault on the fort hastened to warn the commandant. But the 
guards were drunk and would not let them through, particularly as 
one of the two seamen was equally inebriated. That evening, on May 
7, 1771, when the local guards were too drunk to resist, Benyovszky 
and some seventy followers rose in open revolt and, brutally murder- 
ing the governor who had so trusted Benyovszky, looted all govern- 
ment property, and forced the inhabitants of Bol'sheretsk to swear 
allegiance to Emperor Pavel. Then they proceeded to Chekalinsk 
Harbor, where they took possession of the government galiot Sviatoi 
Petr i Sviatoi Pavel, which in size resembled the Sviatoi Mikhail on 
which Spanberg had voyaged to Japan. In the past, similar sea voyages 
had been planned for months and even years, but the rebels could 
not wait. On May 11, after less than four days' preparation, they set 
out to sea, well-provisioned, and with a valuable load of government 
furs, leaving behind a memorandum, addressed to the Senate and 
signed by Benyovszky and seventy of his followers, protesting that 
Pavel Petrovich had been deprived of the throne illegally; condemn- 
ing the war with Poland, the monopolization of salt and wine, and the 
curbing of the freedom of the deputies charged with the drawing up 
of new statutes. As punishment for having tried to forewarn the 
authorities, the two seamen and Nilov's secretary were forced not only 
to sign the memorandum, but to go along on the cruise, together with 
a Kamchadal couple who allegedly owed money to Khrushchev. 18 

Sailing down the Kuril Archipelago, the galiot reached Shimushiru 
in four days. Here, as the rebels took on water and firewood, baked 
bread, repaired the tackling, made and hoisted an English ensign, a 
conspiracy was exposed among the more reluctant voyagers. One of 
the forcibly-detained seamen and the Kamchadal couple were there- 
in In his memoirs Benyovszky claims that he tutored also the governor's three daugh- 
ters, the eldest of whom, Afanasiia, immediately fell in love with him and later ac- 
companied him to Macao. This is not true. The governor, whose appointment to 
Bol'sheretsk was temporary, had brought along only his son; his wife and daughter 
stayed in Izhig. (V. I. Shtein, 182.) 

ispolovtsov, 693-695; Shtein, 187; D. N. Bludov, "Bunt Ben'ovskago v Bol'sheretskom 
ostroge," 201; Znamenskii, 137-138. Most of the Russian sources refer to the galiot 
simply as Sviatoi Petr, Bludov as Sviatoi Pavel. Most Japanese sources more correctly 
talk of Sviatoi Petr i Sviatoi Pavel. 



fore left behind on the island; the others, having willingly agreed 
to continue with Benyovszky, were forgiven. From Shimushiru the 
adventurers proceeded southward, down the east coast of Japan, 
farther than Walton and their countrymen had penetrated thirty-two 
years before. They then traversed the remainder of the northern Liu 
Ch'iu Islands. After a ten-day stop at Oshima they visited Formosa, 
where they had a skirmish with the natives, and, continuing to the 
China coast, entered Macao in mid-September. The voyage was a 
nautical feat, but not without its toll. Three of the crew died at sea, 
and fifteen upon landing. The provisions were spoiled, the crew ill, 
and, as they gorged themselves on fresh food, more died. But Ben- 
yovszky was well. 

Having studied Latin, he was the only one aboard ship who could 
converse with the Portuguese governor and promptly claimed the 
galiot, with her armament and provisions, as his own. He moved into 
the governor's mansion and began negotiations with the English, 
French, and Dutch commercial companies, which sought to exploit 
his discoveries in their own interest. Finally, he sold out the vessel and 
cargo to the governor from under the feet of his partners. Beaten and 
despised, Benyovszky's followers had been aggrieved further by 
his order that no one cross himself while praying. They did not know 
that he had told the governor that they were Hungarian; had they 
made the sign of the cross from right to left in their natural Russian 
Orthodox fashion, they would have revealed the truth to the Portu- 
guese. When they learned of the sale of the galiot they made efforts 
to resist. Wynbladth and Stepanov disclosed Benyovszky's past to 
their shipmates and urged them to return to Russia. To travel, as 
Benyovszky wanted, on a French vessel, with the French at war with 
the English, was to run the danger of being impressed into French 
service. Wynbladth through the local British representative peti- 
tioned the authorities of Macao to arrest Benyovszky as a fugitive 
criminal. But Benyovszky outwitted them, by telling the governor 
that his crew was planning a mutiny and the capture of the town, 
and had his followers thrown into jail until they signed a new pledge 
of allegiance to himself. 19 

During the winter, illness further diminished the band of emigres. 
In the beginning of 1772 Benyovszky embarked on a French frigate 

19 A. S. Sgibnev, "Bunt Benevskago v Kamchatke v 1771 g.," 759; Bludov, 213; Polov- 
tsov, 693-695; Znamenskii, 143-149. Polovtsov mentions Benyovszky's voyage to the Kuril 
Islands and "Tanao-Simu"; it makes no mention of his contacts with the Japanese 
off Shikoku and Kyushu. 



in Canton for He de France (Mauritius) in the Indian Ocean, with 
all but Stepanov, who had refused the new pledge. From there Ben- 
yovszky and his companions rounded Africa and beat their way up 
to France, some returning to Russia, others accompanying him to 
Paris (1773). Thus Benyovszky's Russian companions, who had sailed 
farther on the Pacific Ocean than any Russian navigators before or 
after them in the eighteenth century, were also the first of their com- 
patriots to sail almost around the world. 

In France Benyovszky entered the services of the French govern- 
ment, which dispatched him to Madagascar, ignoring his assertions 
that it would be easy to establish commercial relations with the Jap- 
anese by founding settlements on such islands adjacent to Japan as 
Formosa, Kunashiri and Oshima. From the inhabitants of the latter 
he claimed to have a written permission to return. At Madagascar 
Benyovszky founded a colony in 1774, but the stubborn resistance of 
the natives, differences with the Governor of He de France, and the 
mistrust of the French government prompted him to forsake the 
island. He returned to Europe, reentered the Austrian service and 
in 1778 participated in an engagement with Prussian forces. In 1781 
Benyovszky turned up in Baltimore, Maryland, where he made con- 
tacts with a rich trading house and, with its help, planned a new ex- 
pedition to Madagascar. Assured of cooperation in Baltimore, and 
later in London, he returned to Madagascar in 1785 and, arousing 
the natives against his former employers, the French, proclaimed 
himself ruler of the island. The following year his career was cut 
short by a stray bullet during a French attack on his capital. 20 

Unembellished, Benyovszky's life was one of adventure. His 
memoirs, published simultaneously in English, French, and German, 
however, painted his escapades in such Miinchausen-like colors that 
ultimately it became impossible to separate fact from fiction. At first 
his memoirs were accepted at face value, because little was yet known 
about eastern Asia and Africa, and any new account was welcome. 
Benyovszky's tall tales caught the imagination of writers and poets, 
and were capped by a five-act drama by the noted playwright 
Augustus von Kotzebue in which Benyovszky crowns the bloody up- 
rising by eloping with the governor's daughter. 21 Gradually the char- 
acter of Benyovszky's memoirs became apparent and editors of later 
editions thought it necessary to warn the reading public in the fore- 

20 Polovtsov, 693-695; Znamenskii, 131, 150-151; Tokutomi, xxm, 173-174. 

21 Count Benyowsky; or, The Conspiracy of Kamchatka. 



word. The Gentleman's Magazine commented: "Whatever advantage 
may result from them to navigators, as concurrent evidence of the 
late discoveries, it must be acknowledged that, independent of the 
Count's character, as drawn by his own pen, which represent him as 
little influenced by a regard to truth, or indeed any principle of 
morality whatever, his accounts savour much of the romantic em- 
bellishment and exaggeration." 22 Captain Pasfield Oliver added: "It 
is . . . almost useless to minutely analyse each successive step of the 
Hungarian Count as given in his fictitious journal." And again: "It 
is needless to follow this master of the art of war through all his ex- 
ploits, it is sufficient to say that it was Benyowsky who did everything 
and surpassed everybody like Thackeray's inimitable 'Major Goliah 
O'Grady Gahagan, H.E.I.C.S.' with his 'tremendous adventures.' " 23 

Yet Benyovszky's memoirs were too important to be simply dis- 
missed as fictitious, and European historians tried to sift out the 
grains of truth by referring to the testimony of eyewitnesses. Their 
attention was focused on the Kamchatka uprising, nautical data, and 
the attempted colonization of Madagascar. They skimmed over Ben- 
yovszky's visit to Japan. A. S. Sgibnev, in his thirty-two page account 
of the Kamchatka uprising, devotes one third of a page to Ben- 
yovszky's visit to Japan; in his thirty-four page historical survey of 
the main events on Kamchatka from 1759 to 1772, he dismisses it in 
two sentences; and in his thirty-six page description of early Russo- 
Japanese relations, he ignores it completely. V. I. Shtein sets aside 
two pages in his forty- two page study, "The false emperor of Mada- 
gascar," for an account of Benyovszky's visit to Japan, as reported by 
one of Benyovszky's reluctant companions. This neglect of Ben- 
yovszky's dealings with the Japanese by the eighteenth and nineteenth 
century Russian historians is significant. The record of Benyovszky's 
dealings with the Japanese is important more for what Russian ob- 
servers have omitted than included, because the Russian ignorance of 
the rising Japanese mistrust of Russian actions and objectives was 
one of the striking characteristics of early Russo-Japanese relations 
and was no less conducive to trouble than the forebodings of the Jap- 

Benyovszky's own narrative is too unreliable to serve as a primary 

22 Gentleman's Magazine, ix, 2:725. 

23 Nicholson, 47, 31. Shtein speculates that Benyovszky's purpose in writing his fabu- 
lous memoirs was to excite the interest of greedy Englishmen, and by posing as an 
expert on Asia and Africa to find backing for another expedition. He did indeed ob- 
tain financial support in the United States. (Shtein, 177.) 



source for his activities in Japan. Fortunately we have the more 
credible testimony of the Cossack Ivan Riumin, a cashiered chancery 
clerk who had participated in Benyovszky's voyage to Japan. 24 This 
is how Riumin reports Benyovszky's stay in Japanese waters: 

On July 18, 1771, after a heavy storm in which the vessel almost 
went to the bottom of the sea, Benyovszky and his companions sighted 
land. Toward evening they approached it and, taking in sails, cast 
anchor. They observed numerous guard fires along the coast. In the 
morning they saw people on the beach signaling them not to come 
ashore but go out to sea again. Nevertheless, Benyovszky lowered 
the yawl and sent Wynbladth, Stepanov, and several others ashore. 
The Japanese, who had gathered on the beach, did not want them to 
land, but did nothing to stop them. When the Russians entered the 
Japanese houses they were hospitably offered wine and rice. Later, 
with Wynbladth and Stepanov in a Japanese boat, some of the Japanese 
paid a visit aboard the vessel. They were equally well received, given 
presents, and asked, by means of gestures, whether there was a suit- 
able harbor where the vessel could lay to and take on fresh water. 
Obligingly the Japanese pointed to a bay in the north and the Rus- 
sians departed. Soon they came upon two Japanese boats. A Jap- 
anese boarded the vessel with several followers and, upon the arrival 
of three more boats, had the ship towed into harbor, where a Jap- 
anese settlement and a stone wall, bordered by woodland and moun- 
tains, stretched out before the eyes of the Europeans. When they 
started ashore in the yawl, however, the Japanese, who lined the 
beach, conveyed by gestures that if they let them land both they 
themselves and the foreigners would lose their heads. Again and 
again in years to come the Japanese would show that they feared 
their own officials more than the foreigners. The Russians returned 
to the gahot; toward evening they were brought water and rice. 

Two Japanese guard boats decked with paper lanterns anchored 
near the ship, and remained there night and day until Benyovszky's 
departure. When Benyovszky and a group of men tried to go ashore 
on July 20, guard boats blocked their way, but the Japanese them- 
selves did not hesitate to visit the Russians. On boats from the dif- 
ferent bays, they paddled about the galiot with their attractive 
womenfolk and stared at the strangers from a distance. Others, among 
them elders and priests, dared to climb aboard, where their spirits 
were heighened with vodka and presents. The Russians told the Jap- 

24 Ivan Riumin, 7.apiski kantseliarista Riumina o prikliucheniiakh ego s Beniovskim. 



anese that they were Dutchmen en route to Nagasaki and asked them 
to forward a letter addressed to the Dutch, written by Benyovszky. 

On July 23, 25 the galiot prepared to leave for the coast of China. 
It had stayed for several days and, as the officials had reported this 
to their superiors, they apparently did not wish it to leave before the 
arrival of other officials or of new instructions. As the Russians started 
to weigh anchor, the Japanese hastened aboard and urged them to 
stay overnight. When their request fell on deaf ears, the guards on 
the boat near the bow, laid hands on the anchor cable. This the 
Russians interpreted as an attempt to capture or kill them, because 
the Japanese were known "idol-worshippers and Christian-haters." 
Benyovszky gave orders to discharge the cannons; frightened, the 
Japanese tumbled into their boats and rowed hastily ashore. When 
the Russians reached Macao they were told that the Japanese had 
previously destroyed two Spanish vessels and had tortured their crews 
to death, a third vessel barely making its escape, and consequently 
were assured that they had acted correctly. 26 

Thus Russian sources portray Benyovszky's stay in Japanese waters. 
If we turn to the pages of standard Japanese reference books, how- 
ever, we find such mysterious statements as: "Hanbengoro repaired 
to Nagasaki, and through the Hollanders informed our country of 
Russia's sinister designs"; 27 "Hanbengoro told of Russia's sinister de- 
signs and advised the Japanese to look after the fortifications of the 
northern regions"; 28 and "Beniyopusukii — a naturalized citizen of 
Prussia — pretending to have been cast ashore at Awa and Satsuma, 
secretly surveyed the coast of Japan and returned home." 29 Ben- 
yovszky's name has been rendered in many ways even in the West. 
It is not surprising that it should have been transformed into Han- 
bengoro by the Japanese. 30 But to what kind of warnings about Rus- 
sia's "sinister designs" do the Japanese books refer? 

25Riumin gives the date of departure as June 12 (old style). A glance at the other 
dates clearly indicates, however, that this is either a misprint or a careless mistake. It 
should read July 12 (old style), which corresponds to July 23 (new style). 

26Riumin, 15-22. 27 Heki Shoichi, Kokushi dai-nempyo, in, 203. 

28 Tochinai Sojiro, Yojin nihon tanken nempyo, 63. 

29Yashiro Kuniji, Kokushi dai-jiten, iv, 2365. Most Japanese sources identify Ben- 
yovszky as a Pole. The spelling of Benyovszky's country in Kokushi dai-jiten suggests 
Prussia, though ordinarily Prussia is transliterated differently. It is possible that we 
have here a transliteration of Polsha, the Slavic name for Poland. 

30 According to some authorities Benyovszky posed in Japan as commander in the 
Navy of Her Imperial Roman Majesty, the Empress of Austria. (Keene, 42.) "Hanben- 
goro," "Hanbengorofu," or "Wanbengoro" are natural derivatives of "von Bengoro," 
a Germanic version of his name. "Ausu," as he was also called by some Japanese sources, 
is no doubt a corruption of August or Augustus. 



Japanese sourees describe Benyovszkys visit as follows: In the 
eighth year of Meivva (1771) Hanbengoro was driven by the wind 
to the shores of Awa Province (in southeastern Japan) and later to 
Oshima in Satsuma. He was in fact a spy, gathering information about 
Japan. He had run out of food and he and his men were in great 
distress. The daimyo of Hachisuka took pity on them and supplied 
them with food, fuel, and water. They sailed on with a favorable 
wind. Hanbengoro was so touched by the gracious conduct of the 
daimyo, that he left a letter addressed to the Dutch factor in Naga- 
saki, in which he communicated that Russia was spying on Japan. 
Then he sailed on to Oshima where he requested the same hospital- 
ity. Unaware of his "criminal plan to spy on that place" the Jap- 
anese gave him all possible aid. More and more overwhelmed by 
Japanese hospitality, he began to worry whether the letter had ar- 
rived, and told the Japanese that there were matters of utmost im- 
portance to Japan that he had to convey. They notified Lord Shi- 
madzu, daimyo of Satsuma, and the latter sent an official. Hanben- 
goro handed him six letters in horizontal Western writing, as well 
as a map, expressed his gratitude and left. 31 

Riumin testified in his report that Benyovszky "wrote a letter of 
information to the Dutch in Nagasaki, and gave it to the Japanese 
for delivery," though he adds that "it is not known whether it was 
forwarded or detained by those Japanese." 3 - Benyovszky's own 
memoirs admit the transmittal of communications. An entry under 
July 29 states: "In a bay on the coast of Japan . . . Mr. Wynbladth 
was charged with a letter, written in Dutch, containing a declaration 
respecting my voyages and a request for supply of provisions." 33 An 
entry on August 5 is more elaborate. It incorporates the text of the 
letter given to the Japanese to be forwarded to the Hollanders at 

Health to the officers-in-chiet of the Factory of the Dutch East India 

I acquaint you, gentlemen, that, finding myself upon the coast of Japan, 
whither I was driven by a series of those incidents which often at sea 
compel the navigator to seek his safety wherever he can, I find myself 
in distress which cannot be described, for which reason I have thought 
proper to address myself to you, and to request you to send me an inter- 
si Okamoto, 1:51-55. 32 Riumin, 20. 33 Nicholson, 305. 



prefer, and assistance to conduct me to your post. My ship is a corvette, 
with near one hundred persons on board. An answer, if you please. 

I have the honour to be, gentlemen, 
Your servant 

Maurice August Benyowsky. 
P.S. In order that you may not be prejudiced by suspicions against me, 
I declare to you, that having been chief to the confederacy of Poland, I 
had the misfortune to be made prisoner by the Russians, whose sovereign 
exiled me to Kamchatka, from where I have made my escape, by the 
exertion of courage and valour, with ninety-six companions; and in 
consequence thereof I am now upon the coast of Japan, in my way to 
return to Europe. 34 

None of these Russian statements, however, suggest a secret warning 
against Russia. 

Turning once again to Japanese sources, we learn that in the let- 
ter transmitted at Awa, Benyovszky reported that he was a Dutch- 
man, had formerly fought against Muscovy, had been taken prisoner, 
had escaped, and, on his way home, had been driven to Japan un- 
intentionally. The kindness of the governor of Awa had preserved 
their lives, and he thus wished to express his gratitude through the 
factor. 35 Of the six "letters" left by Benyovszky at Oshima, five were 
merely letters of thanks for Japanese hospitality and copies and trans- 
lations of them from German into Latin. As the Japanese interpreters 
were unable to decipher the letters, they asked the Dutch factors 
Daniel Armenault and Arend Willem Feijth to translate them into 
Dutch. Then they themselves translated them into Japanese. It is 
the sixth one, dated Oshima, July 20, 1771 that contains Benyovszky's 
warning: 36 

Caught in a storm for several days, battling the sea, we were driven to 
the territories of Japan for a second time. Thanks to your kindness we 
received your country's help. I am extremely sorry that I cannot meet 
you. I am expressing my fidelity in this letter. Having received orders 
from Russia to reconnoiter [Japanese] strongholds, I sailed this year with 
two galiots and one frigate from Kamchatka to the Japanese shores and 
cruised along them. We were supposed to assemble in one place. I have 
heard the notion expressed with certainty that next year raids will be 
made on the territories of Matsumae [Hokkaido] and on neighboring 
islands. We made a survey of these regions in latitude 4i°38' N. There- 
upon we constructed fortifications on the so-called Kuril islands, near 
Kamchatka, and stored military supplies and the like. I did not in the 

s* Ibid., 323; Suematsu, 117-118. 

35 Tokutomi, xxm, 174; Okuma Shigenobu, Kaikoku taiseishi, 422-423. 

36 Tabohashi, 136-137; Pozdneev, 11, 2:25-33; Suematsu, 120-125. 



least conceal the above from Hogocdercnsu[?] and wanted to report it, 
but the sending of this kind of letters has been really prohibited by the 
Russians. Since I have now carried out my fidelity to you I hope you will 
keep this in strictest confidence even from your friends as we are both 
Europeans. Speaking secretly, I hope you will send ships from your 
country [Japan] to ward off that harm [Russia's alleged designs on Japan]. 

A map of Kamchatka was enclosed! 37 

Armenault deprecated Benyovszky's warning. "In spite of my in- 
tellectual backwardness," he wrote, "I assume that it contains state- 
ments having no basis, and everything in it is indigestible and dif- 
ficult to investigate. The new captain left Europe only this past sum- 
mer, but has heard no rumors about anything like the statements in 
this letter. . . ." 38 But though he promised to investigate the matter 
thoroughly upon his impending return to Europe, his lack of famil- 
iarity with the northern regions did not allay Japanese concern. The 
Shogunate tried to keep the matter secret, but news leaked out. Ac- 
cording to Japanese historians Benyovszky's warning "created a 
great sensation not only in the Japanese government, but even more 
so among thoughtful people in general, exceeding anything that 

37 Rondo Morishige, Henyo bunkai zuko, 141-143- Rondo's translation is important 
because it was utilized by Japanese statesmen and historians. The original text differed 
somewhat. Professor Donald Keene quotes the original letter, preserved in document 
40/11488 in the Rijksarchief at The Hague: 

Highly Illustrious, High and Well-born Gentlemen, 
Officers of the Highly Esteemed Republic of Holland 

Unkind fate, which has for some time been driving me here and there on the sea, 
has brought me for a second time into Japanese waters. I have come ashore here in 
the hope I might possibly meet with your high excellencies, and thus obtain help. It 
has been a great misfortune for me not to have had the opportunity of speaking to you 
personally, for I have important information to disclose. I have deemed it necessary 
because of my general respect for your illustrious states to inform you in this letter 
of the fact that this year, in accordance with a Russian order, two galliots and a 
frigate from Kamchatka sailed around Japan and set down all their findings in a plan, 
in which an attack on Matsma [Hokkaido] and the neighboring islands lying under 
4 i°38' N. Lat. has been fixed for next year. For this purpose a fortress has been built 
on the Kuril island nearest to Kamchatka, and ammunition, artillery and a magazine 
have been readied. 

If I could speak to you personally, I might reveal more than writing permits. Your 
high illustriousnesses may make such preparation as you please, but my advice, as an 
ardent well-wisher of your illustrious republic and co-religionist, would be that you 
have a cruiser ready if you can. With this I further commend myself and am as sub- 
scribed, your most obedient servant 

Baron Aladar von Bengoro 

Army Commander in Captivity 

20 July 1771 on the island Usma. 

When I went ashore I left there a map of Kamchatka which may be of use to you. 

(Keene, 43-44-) 
3sOkamoto, 1: 51-55; Kondo, 141-143; Okuma, 419. 



might have been expected." Indeed Benyovszky's warning so stim- 
ulated Japanese advocates of coastal defense that his sixth letter has 
been called the "first piece of national defense literature." 39 

Needless to say Russian designs on Hokkaido at that time were a 
figment of Benyovszky's imagination. As an American historian ob- 
serves: "Far from planning aggressive moves against Japan, the Rus- 
sians had all they could do to hold together their Pacific empire, 
which had never consisted of much more than a wretched colony 
in Kamchatka (where vodka was the most plentiful commodity), a 
handful of traders in the Kuriles and a string of tiny outposts in 
America, sometimes marked by such revealing names as Massacre 
Bay." 40 Benyovszky had executed a neat bit of personal revenge and 
had skillfully covered up his tracks. 41 At the same time he had once 
again double-crossed his Russian companions. When he sold the ship 
from under their feet they were bound to object, but they never 
learned that Benyovszky had deliberately aroused Japanese mistrust 
of their own countrymen. To be sure they were political and crim- 
inal exiles, even rebels. When they had fled from Siberia, they had 
considered approaching some foreign power to send two vessels to 
Kamchatka to rescue the remaining exiles and give them the oppor- 
tunity to start life anew elsewhere as colonists. But they were Rus- 
sians and it is unlikely that they would have willingly tolerated 
Benyovszky's stratagem. The Japanese believed that Benyovszky's 
voyage must have added considerably to Russian knowledge of the 
Japanese waters. Although it exceeded all previous penetrations, 
and a journal and chart of the cruise were taken back to Russia, they 
never got beyond the file on the Kamchatka uprising. 42 

The Japanese were unfamiliar with the true character of Ben- 
yovszky. They lacked the means of verifying his "disclosures." Nor 
did they have reason to disbelieve him in view of whatever reports 
they had received about Russian activities in the Kuril Islands. Mod- 
ern Russian historians have failed to understand how the Japanese 
could ever believe that a high official, such as Benyovszky purported to 
be, could ever betray his mission out of mere gratitude; yet the Japa- 
nese concept of gratitude and obligation to one who has saved one's 
life — and well it may have seemed that the Japanese supplies did 

39Tabohashi, 139-141; Keene, 43. 40 Keene, 44. 

41 Not until over a century later, until after the Russo-Japanese war, did a Russian 
historian working with Japanese sources uncover the traces of Benyovszky's duplicity. 

(Pozdneev, 11, 25-33.) 

42 Znamenskii, 151. 



SO — is such that a confession like Benyovszky's would be conceivable. 
Many Japanese regarded Benyovszky as a hero and were convinced 
that he had indeed revealed Russian secrets out of boundless grati- 
tude for Japanese help. In the words of one Japanese historian: "Even 
though his name was handed down incorrectly, he has for a long 
time been one of the important figures in modern Japanese foreign 
relations." 13 


Peter the Great had been the fountainhead of Russian interest in 
Japan; his initiative had aroused the ambitions of commercial enter- 
prise. Yet, when the explorations, begun in the early eighteenth cen- 
tury, finally arrived at their destination, and the exact position of 
Japan's northernmost large island was established at the end of the 
Kuril Archipelago, neither government nor business showed their 
former interest. War with Turkey, the annexation of the Crimea and 
Novorossiia, military action in Poland, and the Pugachev uprising 
at home absorbed the attention of the government; while the steady 
profits from the wealth of furs on the Aleutians and on other islands 
off the American coast disinclined the commercial leaders to deflect 
even a part of their resources to the uncertain prospects of trade 
with Japan. The initiative thus passed into the hands of local author- 
ities in the Russian far east, whose separation from the capital in 
time and space gave them ample latitude for independent action. 
They could not expect to "open" Japan — that would have to be 
done on a higher level — but they hoped to induce Japanese mer- 
chants, who frequented Hokkaido, to barter with Russian traders 
and to make some sort of agreement with local officials like them- 
selves. They were increasingly troubled with the feeding of a swell- 
ing population, and trade with Japan, together with the acquisition 
of the arable southern Kuril Islands, held out some means of relief. 
Thus it was that in 1772, when Catherine the Great in the wake of 
Benyovszky's uprising appointed Captain Matvei Bern as the new com- 
mander of Kamchatka, Governor Bril of Irkutsk handed him in- 
structions which encompassed the establishment of commercial re- 
lations with Japan. 

Chernyi and his men, Bril pointed out, had penetrated in the late 
1760's to Etorofu, but no map, only a rough draft of his log book, 

4 3 Tabohashi, 141. 



had been handed down. Called to Irkutsk to clarify various points, 
Chernyi had died of smallpox before testifying. In his log book he 
had asserted that he had heard from the Ainu that the Japanese 
visited the twenty-second island (Hokkaido) and that they had be- 
gun to come also to the twentieth island, remaining for about two 
months to exchange their manufactures and foodstuffs for beaver 
skins, eagle tails, fats and so forth. Bril wanted this verified. He in- 
structed Bern to dispatch, under the guise of a fur hunting expedi- 
tion, a warship to chart and explore in detail the Kuril Archipelago 
down to the twenty-second island and, if possible, Matsumae itself. 
Preferably private individuals should be induced to undertake this 
venture; if not, the expedition was to be sent out in secret, with an 
experienced navigator and one or two of Chernyi's former inter- 
preters on board. The Japanese whom they might meet must be 
treated with respect and politeness; they must be questioned as to 
the kind of goods they needed and the type of products they could 
give in exchange, about price values, and the possibility of conclud- 
ing a trade agreement. The Ainu were to be persuaded gently to 
become Russian subjects; they were to be invited aboard ship, one 
at a time, to see for themselves how Russians lived. Any foreigners 
brought back willingly from the islands or found castaway on Kam- 
chatka, should be taken to Okhotsk at government expense and there 
maintained until further instructions from Irkutsk, while being 
taught Russian and being used as foreign language instructors for 
Cossack children. 44 

Bern fully reciprocated Bril's interest in the Kuril Islands. In fact, 
he soon advocated in one of his reports to Bril that the islands be 
annexed before other countries did so after hearing about them from 
Benyovszky, and urged that a fortress be built on Uruppu. In these 
plans Bern was supported indirectly by the commandant of Okhotsk, 
Captain Zubov, who, in the late 1770's, had repeatedly petitioned 
the governor of Irkutsk to let him take possession of the Kuril 
Islands and establish commercial relations with Japan. "The mer- 
chants are interested in profit and not in discoveries," he wrote in 
September 1777, "and although Spanberg and Walton have been at 
the shores of Japan, they were there only for reconnaissance purposes 
and not to establish relations." Two years later, in July 1779, he 
pleaded: "I could go as a merchant, without giving my expedition 
any official status. I would attempt to discover new islands. On the 

44 Znamenskii, 153-151- Sgibnev, "Istoricheskii otchet," 46-48. 



island nearest Japan I would build stores and under the pretext also 
a good fortress near a convenient harbor. The garrison of that fortress 
could keep the Kurilians in submission. I could make this expedi- 
tion in one summer. Don't tell me the harbor of Okhotsk and the 
vessels exist only for the purpose of bringing provisions to Kam- 
chatka. — No, we must have discoveries! As for a ship for this voyage 
it is already prepared." 45 But the governor of Irkutsk listened neither 
to the impetuous pleadings of the commandant of Okhotsk, who 
was noted for his avarice and loose living, nor to the counsels of the 
more balanced commander of Kamchatka, for such large scale colon- 
ization would have required not only the consent of the Imperial 
government but financial expenditures beyond local means. This 
does not detract from the fact that there were local officials who 
sought unwittingly to give substance to Benyovszky's warning. 46 

In 1774 Bern found a merchant who agreed to outfit an expedi- 
tion to Japan. The merchant, Pavel Lebedev-Lastochkin of Yakutsk, 
who operated on a large scale in the Aleutians, purchased the neces- 
sary supplies at Okhotsk and sent them to Kamchatka on a govern- 
ment transport. But the vessel sank and with it Lebedev-Lastochkin's 
investment. The fact that such shipwrecks were common, because 
of the shortage of experienced and sober navigators, did not make it 
any easier for Bern to persuade Lebedev-Lastochkin all over again 
to finance the project. Lebedev-Lastochkin finally agreed, taking 
into partnership the merchant Grigorii Shelikhov, 47 who in later 
years was to become the founder of the Russian colonies in America, 
but now had just arrived on the scene, and was not yet fully oriented, 
and several small shareholders, among them Bern himself. As com- 
pensation for their risk (in violation of Catherine the Great's mani- 
fest of 1762) Bern granted Lebedev-Lastochkin and Shelikhov a 
temporary monopoly of the Kuril fur industry and trade, by order- 
ing that, until the completion of the expedition, no other Russian 
vessels visit the islands. None of the backers accompanied the ex- 
pedition in person, however, as they could not neglect their other 
obligations for an undetermined period of time. 

The Sviatoi Nikolai was purchased for the "Secret Voyage," as 
the expedition was being called, and duly repaired and outfitted. 
On Lebedev-Lastochkin's request the Siberian nobleman Ivan Anti- 

45Sgibnev, "Popytki," 50. 46 Pozdneev, n, 2:10; Znamenskii, 155. 

47 Spelled also Shelekhov. 



pin, who was versed in navigation and knew some Japanese, 48 was 
put in command. As assistants he was given Navigator's Apprentice 
Putintsev and the feeble-minded Japanese language student Ivan 
Ocheredin. The remainder of the crew consisted of a boatswain, 
three sailors, forty-five workers (among them twenty-one Kamchadals 
and one Aleutian), a secretary, a first-aid man, and a sober corporal 
of the Bol'sheretsk military command, who could be counted upon 
to replace anyone who became drunk. The armed vessel had enough 
supplies and provisions for a year's voyage. 

The Sviatoi Nikolai was to sail directly from Petropavlovsk Harbor 
to Uruppu without touching at any other island. Aware that Russian 
activities of the past had aroused the hatred of the Ainu, Bern stressed 
the need for caution in his instructions to Antipin. He made the fol- 
lowing points concerning the conduct and objectives of the Secret 
Voyage on the Kuril Islands: If the Ainu were not subject to any 
power, they should be invited to become Russian subjects, protection 
being offered them against their neighbors. Those who had run away 
should be asked to return, but if they refused to do so, they must be 
left in peace. On pain of death, the natives must not be mistreated. A 
fortress should be constructed at a suitable place, preferably on 
Uruppu, and the Russians must remain under arms at all times. On 
Uruppu two pounds of rye, barley, wheat, oats, and hemp should be 
sown as an experiment and inquiries made as to the mineral re- 
sources of this and other islands. Only after the Russians had se- 
curely established themselves on Uruppu, were they to push farther 
south, island by island. They were to chart the islands, taking note 
of those areas suitable for agriculture and, if available, copy native 
maps. After relations with the natives had been improved and order 
established on the Kuril Islands, part of the expedition could devote 
its attention to fur hunting. Antipin and Putintsev, if they found 
no Japanese on Etorofu, must continue on to the Japanese city of 
Matsumae, after having persuaded several Ainu — by whatever gifts — 
to accompany them, so that the arrival of the Russians, whom the 
Japanese did not know, would not arouse their mistrust. On meet- 
ing the Japanese, the Russians were to act courteously, kindly, and 
decently. They were to announce that they had been dispatched by 
Empress Ekaterina Alekseevna because in spite of the fact that she 
had known of Japan for a long time, there was as yet neither ac- 

48 Antipin had learned Japanese at the language school in Irkutsk prior to coming to 
Kamchatka. (Hayashi Kingo, Roshiajin Nihon empo-ki, 32.) 



quaintance nor trade between the two countries as between Russia 
and other nations. They were to call themselves merchants, display- 
ing the wares of Lebedev-Lastochkin and Shelikhov to convince the 
Japanese of their friendly intentions; their guns and ammunition 
meanwhile must be kept hidden. They were to find out from the 
Japanese what they required and what they could trade in exchange, 
to determine the prices, and to inquire whether the Japanese might 
not like, for the sake of mutual trade, to make a treaty on some island 
as a guide for the future; if the Japanese agreed to mutual trade 
and the conclusion of a treaty, a written statement was to be taken 
from them. In this connection Bern advised Antipin to hike the 
prices of Russian products while lowering the cost of Japanese ones. 
No alcoholic beverages were to be purchased except for one bucket 
to be tasted in Russia; no firearms were to be sold. Having gained 
the confidence of the Japanese, the Russians were to gather detailed 
information about the extent of the Japanese Empire, about its 
cities, economy, and way of life. They were to find out what foreigners 
came to trade with them by sea or land, whether the Japanese had 
any seagoing vessels of their own and if so, where did they sail? They 
were to obtain data on Japanese military forces, training, fortifica- 
tions, and weapons and, if possible, to acquire Japanese maps. 

Bern's instructions are remarkable for their thoroughness; they 
were detailed to the extent of ordering the voyagers to put out their 
fires to prevent damage on the islands. They are even more remark- 
able as an expression of policy of a local Russian commander. Con- 
trary to the wishes of the central government and the Governor of 
Irkutsk as the granting of a commercial monopoly, the building 
of a fortress on Uruppu, and the subjugation of the Kuril Islands 
may have been, and important and understandable as the queries 
concerning Japanese fortifications and military potential may have 
been, even to a country which desired peaceful relations with its 
neighbor, the objectives of the Secret Voyage were such as to justify 
Japanese apprehension. Interestingly enough, Bern instructed Anti- 
pin to try to capture Benyovszky and commanded, in view of the 
rivalry between the authorities of Kamchatka and Okhotsk, that the 
expedition return to Kamchatka and under no circumstances to 
Okhotsk. 49 

On July 5, 1775, the Sviatoi Nikolai left Petropavlovsk Harbor and 
in a month reached Uruppu. Afraid to wait in the southern bay, 

49 Pavlovskiy 445-446; Sgibnev, "Popytki," 31, 47-48; Znamenskii, 156-160. 



where natives had attacked Protodiakonov's vessel, the Russians 
continued to the northern part of the island. Here the winds drove 
the Sviatoi Nikolai to a less protected sandy bay. The Russians 
unloaded the ship and arranged living quarters, but they lacked 
timber for rollers and could not bring the vessel ashore. A storm set 
in shortly and the Sviatoi Nikolai was wrecked. The Secret Voyage 
was stuck on Uruppu. The Russians sighted some Ainu in the dis- 
tance, but did not dare to hail them. They occupied themselves with 
hunting furs and, when spring came, some of the workers loaded 
bidarkas and departed for Bol'sheretsk. Before the loss of the Sviatoi 
Nikolai, in the preceding year, Lebedev-Lastochkin had sent out four 
bidarkas with provisions for the expedition. Three perished in a 
storm; the fourth the workers now met, and with it returned to 
Bol'sheretsk. When Shelikhov learned of these misfortunes he with- 
drew his support of the Secret Voyage; not Lebedev-Lastochkin who 
still hoped to recover his investment. 

In 1776 Lebedev-Lastochkin sent the Irkutsk trader Dimitrii 
Shabalin to Uruppu with two supply-laden bidarkas. At the same 
time he requested permission from the governor of Irkutsk to rent 
a government vessel for the purpose of bringing the Kurilians into 
the Russian Empire, establishing commercial relations with Japan, 
and rescuing the stranded crew. The governor of Irkutsk granted 
this request and the brigantine Natalia under the command of 
Navigator Petuchkov was assigned to him for a period of three years. 
The Natalia was a vessel of the Okhotsk command, and thus the rival 
authorities of Kamchatka and Okhotsk were now both associated 
with the Secret Voyage. On September 21, 1777, the Natalia left 
Okhotsk. She reached Uruppu safely and there remained for the 

In the summer of 1778, four years after the beginning of the 
expedition, the Russians were ready to push beyond Uruppu. 
Shabalin, a quick-witted and energetic man, who had joined the 
expedition merely as interpreter, now became the actual leader. 
Leaving the Natalia and part of the crew at the island, Shabalin and 
thirty-two men, together with the language student Ocheredin and 
two Ainu, crossed over to Etorofu on three bidarkas. In the pre- 
ceding year some Russian hunters had also visited Etorofu. Two 
had been killed by the islanders. A Matsumae official had investi- 
gated the incident and had publicly expressed regret. The Russians 
had taken advantage of the occasion to indicate their desire for rice, 



tobacco, and meat and to urge the establishment of trade. The Japa- 
nese official had explained that it was not in his power to decide this. 
The Russians then departed, stating as they left that they would 
come back again. On his return to Matsumae the Japanese oflicial 
pleaded for trade, but to no avail. Now the Russians saw no Japanese. 
As the Ainu approached gesticulating wildly, they prepared for battle. 
But they held their fire as they learned that these were ceremonial 
gestures of welcome, and instead presented the Ainu leaders with gifts. 
Having proclaimed some of the natives Russian subjects, Shabalin 
and his men went on to Kunashiri. There they claimed more Ainu 
subjects and, after gathering some information of an island to the 
north (Sakhalin), finally penetrated to Hokkaido. 50 

Discharging their muskets, the Russians approached the eastern 
coast of Hokkaido at the little settlement of Notkome (Nokkamapu, 
east of Nemuro). The inhabitants were frightened until natives from 
Rashowa Island went ashore from one of the bidarkas and assured 
them that the Russians had come with peaceful intentions and only 
desired to confer with the Japanese, about whose visits to this region 
they had learned from the Ainu on Shimushiru. There was a Japa- 
nese merchant ship nearby and the opportunity for trade with 
Japanese merchants seemed close to hand. The Russians did not 
realize that, while they themselves were commercial people with 
a certain amount of authority delegated to them by officials in Siberia, 
the Japanese in charge of local operations were neither merchants 
nor hunters but government officials. Japanese trade with the Ainu 
was given on lease and was conducted under the control of officials 
who accompanied the merchant vessels and themselves traded in 
objects monopolized by the government. The Japanese inspector 
Kudo Seiemon informed the Russians through an interpreter that, 
since it was night, the Matsumae official Araida Daihachi had retired 
to the tribute office and all negotiations would have to be postponed 
until morning. But the Russians insisted that they had come from 
a distance and would not be able to feel at ease in a place entirely 
unfamiliar to them, and must see the official at once. They proceeded 
to the tribute office where they found the official and met briefly with 
him. They posted four or five guards at their temporary camp, but 
agreed to recall them, when the Japanese assured them that the 
natives had been told to conduct themselves properly and that they 
could sleep in perfect safety. 

soSgibnev, "Popytki," 48-50; Tokutomi, xxm, 130; Znamenskii, 160-161. 



The following morning the Russians conferred with Araida. They 
explained, through a native interpreter from Shimushiru, that Japan 
and Russia had for a long time been anxious to establish trade rela- 
tions with each other and that therefore they had brought samples 
of their merchandise with them. Araida replied that he did not have 
the authority to act upon this matter, but promised to bring it before 
his lord upon returning to Matsumae; the latter would then make 
an appropriate report to the shogunate. He informed the Russians 
that no speedy reply was possible and that an answer would be 
brought to Etorofu in the summer of the following year. Araida then 
ordered their immediate departure and the Russians left Notkome. 
They returned to Uruppu where they rejoined Antipin and the rest 
of the crew. Shortly thereafter they set sail on the Natalia and reached 
Okhotsk in early September. Araida had not promised trade with 
Russia, but his evasive reply had been misunderstood. According to 
Russian sources, Araida had expressed fear to trade with the Russians 
without permission from his government, but had agreed with Sha- 
balin that, until the decision of the Japanese sovereign became 
known, goods could be exchanged in the harbor on the northern 
side of Kunashiri Island. Allegedly Araida asked the Russians to come 
to that harbor by July 31, 1779 to confirm details of trade and pro- 
cedure, and gave them letters to the Russian government in which 
the desire to trade with Russia was expressed. Shabalin thus arrived 
with joyful tidings as well as a handsome load of furs. 

Lebedev-Lastochkin decided to send the brigantine back to Uruppu 
without delay and, having taken into partnership the merchants 
Popov and Mylnikov and the Okhotsk Commandant Zubov, loaded 
the vessel with a valuable cargo of goods and provisions. Shabalin 
was officially put in command of the new expedition and given letters 
from Lebedev-Lastochkin and Zubov to the commander of the Japa- 
nese vessel. On September 18, 1778 the Natalia put out to sea. 51 

Araida Daihachi, meanwhile, had returned to Matsumae and 
delivered to his lord a letter and gifts which the Russians had left. 
The next year, in 1779, Japanese officials were sent out to bring a 
reply to the ' 'redheaded" foreigners, but were considerably delayed 
by unfavorable winds. Shabalin and Antipin wintered on Uruppu. 
In the summer of 1779 they proceeded with forty-five men on seven 
bidarkas to Etorofu and then to Kunashiri. When they did not find 

siPolonskii, 455; Znamenskii, 162-163; Okamoto, 55-56; Sgibnev, "Popytki," 31-49; 
Pozdneev, n, 2: 33-36; Kono, 669-670; Hayashi, 54. 



any Japanese there, they continued in search of them until they 
reached Hokkaido once more. At Notkome they waited for the Japa- 
nese delegates who sent word of their unavoidable delay and asked 
the Russians to remain there. This they did for a month, imposing 
tribute on several Ainu, then moved on to Akkeshi. In the harbor 
lay a Japanese vessel. As they passed it on their bidarkas a flag was 
raised on the ship, and the Russians replied with a three gun salute. 
When they touched shore they were met by Japanese sailors and a 
Japanese interpreter of Ainu and were shown where to rest. Nearby 
they saw a wooden commercial office, where the Japanese traders 
stayed. On September 6, Shabalin and Antipin conferred with the 
commander of the Japanese vessel. He read them a letter from the 
Lord of Matsumae in which the latter wrote that bad weather had 
prevented his officials from coming that summer, but that they could 
meet the Russians on Kunashiri the following year. The Russians 
must not visit Hokkaido again; Akkeshi was Japanese, the leaders 
of the local Ainu receiving Japanese goods in exchange for native 
products. If the Russians did need Japanese things they could obtain 
them through the Ainu. In the days that followed, Russians and 
Japanese freely visited and entertained each other and even ex- 
changed gifts, though later the Japanese commander, afraid of his 
superiors, returned the boots and other presents given to him. The 
Russians were about to depart, when word was received that a vessel 
bearing two envoys from Matsumae was on its way. The envoys 
arrived on September 16, and, after elaborate preparations, the 
Russians were received. The officials informed the latter that their 
ruler had forbidden them to trade with the Russians and that the 
Lord of Matsumae had instructed them consequently to tell the 
Russians that they must not come again to Kunashiri and Etorofu. 
Should they be in need of food and wine they could send Ainu from 
Uruppu. If trade with Japan was their desire, they should go to 
Nagasaki where other nations gathered for that purpose. They 
returned the letter and gifts which the Russians had brought the 
previous year, but supplied them with provisions and firewood and 
accepted some bags of sugar in exchange. Thus trade in the regions 
nearest to Russia had been denied, but mention of Nagasaki kept 
alive the prospect of relations elsewhere. According to Japanese 
sources, mention of Nagasaki was made or meant in a somewhat less 
promising sense. Japanese sources render the statement like this: 
". . . foreign trade is limited exclusively to the port of Nagasaki, and 



as it is not permitted at all in other places, no matter how much 
you would ask, permission will not be given. In the future to cross 
the sea and to come here will be of no use whatsoever." 52 

On October 11, 1779, the Russians returned to Uruppu and there 
remained for the winter. On January 19, 1780, a series of earthquakes 
began to shake the island. On the morning of the 29th a tidal wave, 
that rose some forty-two feet above the horizon, tore the Natalia off 
her two anchors and carried her about thirteen hundred and thirty 
feet inland, where she was left stranded as the waters receded. Unable 
to drag the brigantine back into the sea, Antipin and fourteen men 
departed for Bol'sheretsk in a bidarka, arriving there in September. 
The following year Antipin traveled to Irkutsk to report on the 
expedition. Shabalin with fifty-two men remained on Uruppu wait- 
ing for Lebedev-Lastochkin to send a vessel. When none arrived by 
the summer of 1782, Shabalin and his men loaded the remaining 
company property onto four bidarkas and headed safely back to 

Lebedev-Lastochkin, meanwhile, had hastened to St. Petersburg in 
1779 to report in person about the apparent success of the Secret 
Voyage, carrying with him the ship's journal and a map of the Kuril 
Islands and the letters and gifts received from the Japanese. As he 
passed through Irkutsk, he made a report to Governor Nemchinov, 
who in turn sent along a letter to Prince Viazemskii in which he pro- 
posed that Commandant Zubov be dispatched to Japan and asked 
that Lebedev-Lastochkin, in reward for such services as the subjuga- 
tion of up to fifteen hundred natives and as compensation for the 
great losses suffered by him, be granted a monopoly on trade and 
hunting in the Kuril Islands. But the intercession of the governor 
did not have the desired effect. Filled with ambitions in the West, 
the Imperial government lacked as yet the taste for imperialism in 
the Far East. The expense involved in the administration and defense 
of so many distant subjects would only outweigh the tribute obtained 
from them. On June 9, 1779, Catherine the Great decreed that, 
because of the difficulties involved in the administration of distant 
conquered territories, the Ainu, who had been made subjects, should 
be let free and not required to pay tribute, though it would be 
desirable to maintain friendly relations with them for the sake of 

52 Okamoto, 55-56; Pozdneev, n, 2:33-36; Yano Niichi, Roshia no toho seisaku, 134- 
135; Ebina Kazuo, "Kaikoku-ron no ransho," 375; Hokkaido-shi 11, 276-277. The latter 
contains a Russian picture of the meeting at Akkeshi in 1779. 



commercial profit; the right to trade with Japan was granted to all 
Russian subjects alike, monopolies having been abolished by the 
manifest of August 11, 1762; the orders issued by the governor of 
Irkutsk, restraining all merchants other than Lebedev-Lastochkin 
from going to the distant Kuril Islands, were to be revoked; and 
Zubov was to be sent out only if the governor himself thought such 
a trip useful. 

When Lebedev-Lastochkin, upon his return to Irkutsk in 1781, 
learned of the fate that had befallen the Natalia, he petitioned the 
governor of Irkutsk that, as compensation for the 79,500 ruble loss 
which he had borne, he be assigned another government vessel for 
trade with the islands. Major General Klichka issued appropriate 
instructions, and on May 22, 1781, the galleon Sviatoi Georgii was 
put at his disposal. Lebedev-Lastochkin ordered the captain to sail 
to Uruppu, salvage the Natalia, and then proceed to the Aleutian 
Islands for trade. Frightened by the earthquakes the captain went 
directly to the Aleutians. Another attempt to remove the Natalia 
proved equally abortive and the vessel was left to rot on Uruppu. This 
was too much even for Lebedev-Lastochkin, and he abandoned his 
attempts to trade with the Kuril Islands and Japan. Captain Zubov 
was ordered to Irkutsk in 1781, to elaborate on his plans for establish- 
ing trade relations with Japan. He went to Irkutsk, but while waiting 
there was courtmartialed for violence, drunkenness, and disorderly 
conduct. The Kuril Islands faded into the background of Russo- 
Japanese relations: tribute could no longer be exacted from the 
natives; the earthquakes of 1780 had frightened the beavers away 
from the islands; and their role as stepping stones to trade with Japan 
could no longer be supported. After the tremendous losses of Lebedev- 
Lastochkin, private capital could no longer be prevailed upon to 
finance expeditions to Japan independently. Henceforth the Russian 
government had to sponsor or, at least, finance such ventures. 53 

53 Sporadic individual activity in the Kurds continued. In 1786, the Japanese ex- 
plorer Mogami Tokunai was welcomed by three Russians when he landed on Etorofu 
Island. Having separated from their countrymen on Uruppu because of dissension, 
the Russians voluntarily accompanied Mogami to Kunashiri, and apparently remained 
there. (Yamamoto, 467; Minakawa Shinsaku, Mogami Tokunai, 48-51.) Three years 
earlier, in 1783, the Russians had set foot on Sakhalin. Commanded by Petr, son of a 
Japanese castaway (Rihachiro of Sai Village in Nambu) and a Russian wife, some 
seventy Russians are said to have arrived on a large vessel. Details are not known, but 
a quarrel evidently ensued with the natives and all the Russians allegedly were killed. 
The Russian vessel was carried away by the waves and was driven to the shore of 
Uruppu. There a native chieftain from Etorofu, who had been hunting in that region, 
came upon the ship and climbed aboard. All he could find was the corpse of one 



The voyages of Spanberg and Walton had led the Russians, for the 
first time, to the shores of Japan. The contacts, which had taken place 
with the Japanese, had been so hasty, however, that, though the 
location of Japan had been discovered, its people remained unknown. 
The exploration of men, like Chernyi, had filled in some of Span- 
berg's findings. But it was the Secret Voyage which completed the 
exploratory quest of Japan. To be sure, the Russians had only been 
on Hokkaido, with its predominantly Ainu population. But Hok- 
kaido was indisputably Japanese territory. Here the first official 
contacts between Russia and Japan took place; here the matter of 
trade with Russia was first put before the Japanese government. It was 
only a matter of time till negotiations were to be resumed on a 
larger scale. 54 

Russian, who seemed to have been stabbed to death, and a rich cargo of cloth, cotton, 
gold, and silver. The natives regarded the find as a gift from heaven. They carried off 
the welcome load; then they burned the ship. As more and more Russian vessels began 
to approach Uruppu on hunting voyages, the natives became concerned for fear the 
goods be discovered and they be blamed for the murder of the crew. Panic-stricken, 
they piled the loot into nine canoes and in spite of bad weather set out for a better 
hiding place. A sudden storm foiled their plans and the treasure was claimed again 
by the ocean. Not one of the more than a hundred natives, who had manned the 
boats, survived. When a Russian vessel arrived at Uruppu soon afterwards, the natives, 
who had remained behind, thoroughly frightened by now, disclosed what had happened. 
The Russians expressed anger at the way in which the natives had appropriated Rus- 
sian property; at the same time they took advantage of the misfortune to claim that 
existing conditions showed a lack of administration, that there was no reason why 
Russia should recognize the island as under Japanese rule. Uruppu needed a responsi- 
ble administration that would restrain the natives from similar misdeeds. Those who 
colonized the island — the Russians — were to be its rightful owners. (Okamoto, 1:56-57; 
Suematsu, 109.) 

54Polonskii, 456-462; Sgibnev, "Popytki," 49-52; Znamenskii, 164-167; Okamoto, 55-56; 
Pozdneev, 11, 2:31-36. 




"np"N the second half of January, or in the opening days of Febru- 
$1^ ary 1783, 1 the Japanese transport Shinsho Maru was proceeding 

X along the coast of Suruga Province with a cargo of rice from 
the domains of the Lord of Kii, when a sudden squall smashed 
her rudder. Unable to control the vessel, the crew kept her upright 
by downing the mast and jettisoning most of the cargo. The helpless 
ship was swept out to sea, and tossed about for a period of eight 
months. The fresh water gave out, but the crew managed to collect 
rain water by edging the upper deck with boards and cutting a hole 
in it, under which they set a container. On August 12, one of the 
seventeen shipmates died. Soon after on August 17, their spirits were 
lifted by the sight of an island. Hastily they ripped apart rice bags, 
sewed them into a small sail, and, using cables as rudders, drew 
nearer. The island seemed barren of trees and inhospitable, but the 
Japanese had little choice. They put firewood, rice, clothing, and 
other necessities into a boat and rowed ashore. On land they met 
some natives. In vain they tried to make themselves understood, but 
the natives kept pulling them at the sleeve and gesturing to them 
to come along. After much discussion, five of the Japanese ventured 
to accompany the natives. Soon they encountered two men dressed 
in red, who fired their muskets in the air when they saw them. These, 
they learned later, were Russian hunters and the place was Amchitka, 
one of the Aleutian Islands. Here they and their other shipmates 
remained for four years. Their ship was smashed against the shore 
and, though they managed to save most of the equipment and sal- 
vaged what timber they could, life on this northern island was harsh 
indeed. In a short time seven of the castaways, weakened already by 
privation at sea, died. 

In 1787, the Japanese managed finally to leave the island and make 
their way to Kamchatka, either by their own efforts on a ship con- 
structed from the wreckage of the Shinsho Maru, as they later claimed, 
or on a Russian vessel that had called at Amchitka, more likely the 

1 In the twelfth lunar month of the second year of Temmei. Most Japanese sources 
err in equating this with 1782; the twelfth lunrr month extended from January 3 
through February 1, 1783. 



latter. At Nizhne-Kamchatsk the hunters, with whom they had come 
and from whom they had learned some Russian on the island, handed 
them over to the governor. The leader of the Japanese, a native of 
the village Minami-Wakamatsu in the domain of the Lord of Kame- 
yama in Izu Province, by the name of Kodayu remained in the house 
of the governor. The eight other castaways were put up in a boarding- 
house, looked after by an official, a doctor, and a soldier. But, well- 
treated as they were, the ravages of a famine on Kamchatka took the 
lives of three more castaways in 1788. 2 Earlier that year the French 
traveler M. de Lesseps had met the nine Japanese and recorded his 
impressions of them. Of Kodayu he noted: "The freedom with which 
he enters the house of the governor and other persons would among 
us be thought insolent, or at least rude. He immediately fixes himself 
as much at his ease as possible, and takes the first chair that offers; 
he asks for whatever he wants, or helps himself, if it be within his 
reach." Lesseps was no less impressed by Kodayu's intelligence. "He is 
possessed of great penetration, and apprehends with admirable readi- 
ness everything you are desirous to communicate. He has much 
curiosity, and is an accurate observer." 3 These are significant com- 
ments, for Kodayu jotted down whatever he saw and served as a 
channel of information between the Russians and Japanese. 

In the summer of 1788, the six remaining castaways were taken 
across Kamchatka to Tigilsk, from there by sea to Okhotsk, after an 
arduous snow-covered overland journey, to Yakutsk, and finally to 
Irkutsk, where they arrived in February of 1789. Here they aroused 
much curiosity and were in great demand at social gatherings. Every- 
where they were treated with kindness and compassion; yet they 
dreaded the Russians' plans for making them soldiers or officials, or 
even for setting them up in business as merchants, and repeatedly 
petitioned that they be returned home. Fortunately they made the 
acquaintance of Eric Laxman, a Finnish-born professsor of natural 
science at the St. Petersburg Academy, who was just then engaged 
in some research in this region. Interested in Japan for years, Laxman 
readily took them under his wing in the hope of adding to his knowl- 
edge of their country. 4 In January 1791, when he started back for 
St. Petersburg he took along Kodayu and two of his companions — 

2 Ramming, Reisen, 14-17; Kamei Takataka, Hokusa monryaku, 8-9. 

3 Keene, 61-62; Ramming, Reisen, 18. 

4 Ramming notes that Professor Laxman enclosed a detailed map of Japan drawn 
by Kodayu in a report to the Academy in 1790 and discusses this and other maps of 
Kodavu. Kamei takes issue with Ramming's findings. See Ramming, Reisen, 21-25; 
Kamei, 28-32. 



the other two castaways having fallen ill, one of them very seriously. 5 
In St. Petersburg Professor Laxman succeeded in arousing interest 
in his plan of sending an expedition to Japan under the pretext of 
returning the castaways. Six years earlier, in August 1785, the resump- 
tion of negotiations with the Japanese had been added to the many 
tasks of an expedition, under Captains Joseph Billings and Gavriil 
Sarychev, to the Russian possessions in northeast Asia and the north- 
ern Pacific, but it had failed to reach the shores of Japan. Then, on 
January 2, 1787, an imperial ukase had projected the dispatching of 
Russia's first round-the-world expedition under the command of 
Captain Mulovskii. Planned on a large scale, essentially to assert 
Russian rights in territories discovered by Russian seafarers, it too 
envisaged renewed negotiations with the Japanese, but was called 
off almost at the last moment, because of war with Turkey and the 
expected break of diplomatic relations with Sweden. 6 Catherine the 
Great now ordered Professor Laxman to elaborate on his proposal 
in writing. 

Laxman drew up a memorial in which he listed in some detail the 
merchandise that could be sold and bought in Japan. He described 
the Japanese intolerance of foreigners, commenting that, in view of 
the good behavior of the Dutch, this intolerance had lessened con- 
siderably and, on the basis of Kodayu's testimony, was no longer a 
threat as in the days of Kampfer. He noted that the standard of living 
and needs of the Japanese had increased, and with it the importance 
of their trade; that unfavorable reports of Japanese actions were 
purposely spread by the Dutch and English to keep the profits of 
trade to themselves. 

For acquaintance and commercial relations with Japan no one has so 
much convenience as the Russian merchants, who trade on the Pacific 
Ocean, and what is more, our very proximity gives us the nearest right to 
it. No one has easier communication, no one can benefit from it more, than 
our merchants who for a long time already have been thinking of this 
acquaintance, wherefore it is extremely desirable that they might get the 
opportunity for the first step in this matter through the return of the 
remaining shipwrecked Japanese who are still in Russia. ... If they will 
be taken like friends to their fatherland and will begin to praise such 
benefactions of ours, the spreading of such good words on the part of 
the good merchants who travel for local trade to Ezo and to the islands 
adjacent to our Kuril ones, will encourage the establishment of trade and 

5 Ramming, Reisen, 23-25; Keene, 60-64; Sgibnev, "Popytki," 53. 
eNovakovskii, 46-47; Sgibnev, "Istoricheskii ocherk," en, 32-33. 



acquaintance with us, should the Japanese government, against all 
expectation, leave this without any consideration. . . J 

In the last part of his memorial Laxman insisted that Russian 
navigation of the Amur River was absolutely essential for the devel- 
opment of Russian trade and territories, and proposed that the Amur 
be secretly reconnoitered by vessels of the projected Japanese expedi- 
tion. In a supplement to this memorial, Laxman made some further 
comments and suggestions: Both English and Dutch merchants had 
tried persistently to get hold of the Japanese he had brought to the 
capital; there was no truth to the rumor that the Amur Estuary had 
become overgrown with reeds and thus was no longer navigable; a 
settlement should be established at a suitable place on the very 
mouth of the Amur, the Russian Kuril Islands, or on the more 
southerly unoccupied islands in order to facilitate trade with the 
Japanese and to forestall the need of having to do in northern Japan 
what the Dutch must do on Deshima; the population of Russia should 
be increased along the Chinese frontier; the two Japanese who had 
adopted Christianity (Shinzo or Nikolai Petrovich Kolotygin and 
Shozo or Fedor Stepanovich Sitnikov) should be used as language 
teachers in Russia, while those about to be repatriated should still 
be utilized in the same capacity during the lengthy voyage. 8 

On September 24, 1791, Catherine the Great decreed that Professor 
Laxman's plan concerning an expedition to Japan be executed. In 
the ukase addressed to Lieutenant General Ivan Pil, Governor Gen- 
eral of Irkutsk and Kolyvansk, she included the following points: 
(1) To use for the voyage to Japan a private vessel with a sufficient 
complement rented at government expense or, if Captain Billings 
returned in time, one of his vessels with the necessary crew, making 
certain that its commander be a native Russian, and if no native 
Russian of talent be available, then a foreigner, but not an English- 
man or Dutchman; (2) to send on this vessel, at full government 
expense, all the Japanese except the two who had adopted the Chris- 
tian faith; (3) to have one of Professor Laxman's sons, who was 
serving in Irkutsk and was versed in astronomy and navigation, 
accompany the Japanese to their fatherland, ordering him to make 
astronomical, physical, and geographical observations en route and 
in Japan, investigating also commercial conditions there; (4) in con- 
sultation with Professor Laxman to draw up clear instructions for 

7 Polonskii, 468-469. 

*Ibid., 470-473; Hayashi, 77; Ramming, Reisen, 28. 


the commander of the expedition; (5) on the occasion of returning 
the castaways to address the Japanese government on paper, setting 
forth the care with which they had been treated as evidence of the 
Russian desire tor intercourse and commercial relations with Japan, 
assuring it that Japanese subjects would receive assistance and kind 
treatment in Russian ports and territories; (6) to present to the 
Japanese government, as a gift in the name of Pil, up to two thousand 
rubles' worth of proper goods purchased at government expense; 

(7) to try to induce some Irkutsk merchants or their agents to accom- 
pany the expedition with their wares in order to gather some prac- 
tical experience concerning the possibilities of trade with Japan; 

(8) not to follow Professor Laxman's plan, regarding the Amur River, 
lest Russian trade negotiations with China should be hindered; 

(9) to use the two castaways who could not return to Japan as teachers 
of Japanese, "which with the establishment of commercial relations 
with Japan will be very much needed," placing them at the public 
school in Irkutsk at an appropriate salary with five to six local stu- 
dents, who in time could also serve as translators. 9 

The Empress herself received the castaways and told them that it 
had been decided to send them home. Gifts were bestowed on them, 
Kodayu receiving a jeweled tobacco box, a Swiss watch, and a gold 
medal. In Irkutsk, in St. Petersburg, and during a stay in Moscow 
they were wined and dined and people of rank and distinction came 
to call on them. In January of 1792, the castaways returned to 
Irkutsk with Professor Laxman, who wished to direct from there the 
necessary preparations for the expedition to Japan. His twenty-six- 
year-old son, Lieutenant Adam Laxman, went at once to Okhotsk, 
from whence the vessel was to sail. He did not, however, play an active 
role until after departure from Russia. 

With the assistance of Commandant Ivan Kokh of Okhotsk and 
the cooperation of officials elsewhere, Professor Laxman organized 
the expedition with a minimum of friction. His major obstacle and 
source of delay was the shortage of suitable personnel. As the Empress 
desired the employment of a Russian as commander of the vessel, 
Navigator Grigorii Lovtsov was named to this position, even though 
he lacked more advanced nautical training. For assistants he was 
given Navigator Olesov and Navigator's Mate Mukhoplev. Neither 
was particularly reliable. As Professor Laxman was to write after the 

9 Document No. 16985, dated September 24, 1791; Polonskii, 473-475; Novakovskii, 
49-52; V. Lagus, Erik Laksman, 242-245. 



safe return of the expedition from Japan: "The fortunate outcome of 
the voyage surprises me the more, because the navigators seemed to 
me so very suspicious, but could not be replaced by anyone. It is true 
that Olesov and Mukhoplev had learned something, but because of 
unsatisfactory conduct and their dipsomania, they had to be put 
under the almost completely ignorant Lovtsov, only because he is 
more sober, and so God piloted the ship." 10 No suitable private 
vessel was found in Okhotsk, nor had any of Captain Billings' vessels 
arrived in port. Professor Laxman, therefore, selected a government 
transport, the brigantine Ekaterina, which was duly repaired and 
supplied. The merchants Shelikhov and Golikov as well as V. Rokh- 
letsov agreed to take over the commercial aspects of the expedition, 
and merchandise for trade as well as gifts was fetched from Moscow. 
The complement chosen for the Ekaterina numbered no more than 
forty: Lieutenant Laxman, Navigators Lovtsov and Olesov, Navi- 
gator's Mate Mukhoplev, Interpreter Sergeant Tugolukov (who was 
immediately attached to the castaways to study Japanese), 11 Inter- 
preter Geodesist Trapeznikov, a boatswain (Sapozhnikov, who had 
been on Uruppu in 1770), a quartermaster, fifteen sailors, two car- 
penters, a blacksmith, a student medic, an artillery corporal, three 
soldiers, the Irkutsk merchant Dmitrii Shabalin (who was familiar 
with the Kuril Islands and in 1778 had visited Hokkaido), two agents 
of Shelikhov, of Golikov, and of Rokhletsov, with two servants, the 
three Japanese castaways, and the fifteen year old son of Commandant 
Kokh as a volunteer at his own expense. 12 Lovtsov selected the crew; 
other than that, as in the case of Lieutenant Laxman, his authority 
began only when the expedition had been readied for departure. 
The relative roles and rights of the young envoy and of Navigator 
Lovtsov during the expedition were clearly spelled out to them by 
Pil: "When the vessel will have been manned with a crew and per- 
sons, then Laxman too must board it and, without interfering except 
for needed counsels, be subject to Navigator Lovtsov's authority in 
sailing and dispositions, considering himself as a passenger like the 
Japanese and other government servants and commercial agents. 

10 Ramming, Reisen, 29; Polonskii, 476-478; Sgibnev, "Popytki," 53. 

11 According to Japanese sources Tugolukov had studied Japanese in his youth under 
the castaway Kyusuke, who had been shipwrecked in the Kyoho period (1716-1735). 
Trapeznikov is said to have been the son of Kyusuke, and thus half-Japanese. (Ram- 
ming, Reisen, 29.) 

12 Polonskii, 478; Ramming (Reisen, 28-29) and Sgibnev ("Popytki," 53) list Shabalin 
as the agent of Shelikhov and Golikov; they give the number of the crew as twenty 
sailors and four soldiers. 



Lovtsov, on the other hand, being experienced in sailing, is entrusted 
with the vessel, cargo, all servants and passengers on the basis of 
naval regulations." 13 

On September 24, 1792, one year to the day after the ukase of 
Catherine the Great, the expedition put out to sea. It had orders to 
proceed down the Kuril Archipelago directly to the twenty-second 
island (Akkeshi, Hokkaido) and there to announce its arrival and 
purpose to a Japanese vessel and, in the absence of any such vessel, 
send a Russian-manned junk to the nearest Japanese city. Laxman 
and Lovtsov were specifically instructed to treat the inhabitants of the 
island amicably and to impress on crew and passengers alike that 
they must create a favorable impression of Russia by their conduct. 
Upon the return of their comrades on the junk and, if necessary — in 
order not to miss the seasonable time of navigation — even without 
their return, Lovtsov was to leave the twenty-second island and with 
due nautical caution sail to the very capital of Japan, recording all 
incidents in the journal. Pil warned that the castaways must not be 
offended in any way. At the shores of Japan, to prevent their escape, 
they must be guarded, but unobtrusively. The instructions dwelled 
on the delivery of the Russian state paper to the Japanese, on the 
investigation of trade possibilities, Japanese internal affairs, and 
troubles between Japanese and Ainu on the Kuril Islands. Again 
and again it was found necessary to caution the members of the 
expedition to refrain from excessive drinking, gambling, or anything 
else that would detract from respect of Russia. 14 In view of Japanese 
antagonism toward Christianity, care was to be exercised to spare 
Japanese sensibilities (and suspicions) in this regard also. Russian 
adaptability and respect for Oriental customs, characteristic of Rus- 
sian policy in the Far East, were clearly expressed in the instructions: 
"I leave it to you to impress it strictly on the crew, that they do not 
sometime in accordance with custom and habit cross themselves 
while praying but keep their faith in their heart. To this end you 
must in advance take from all without exception the crosses, images, 
prayer-books and everything that only portrays Christianity, or bears 
the sign of the cross." 15 

Setting course for latitude 45 ° N., where Hokkaido was believed 
to be, the Ekaterina found herself at Etorofu on October 7. Continu- 
ing to the southwest, the brigantine sighted the northern coast of 
Kunashiri with its snowcovered sugar cone, Mount Piko, and pro- 

13 Polonskii, 480. 14 Ibid., 481-483. 15 Ibid., 554. 



ceeding southward, arrived at the strait between Kunashiri and 
Hokkaido (Nemuro Kaikyo). She was prevented by bad weather from 
entering the strait until October 17, when she finally put into the 

'* Japanese barracks 
Russian barracks 

Japanese bar 



_. Ekaterinq; ^^ 
stopped here • ^% 

Nemuro and Akkeshi at 
the Time of Laxman 

narrow strip of water, which, in later years, Lieutenant Commander 
Vasilii Golovnin was to name in her honor (Proliv Ekateriny), and 
rounding the southernmost tip of Kunashiri cast anchor. The anchor- 
age proved unsatisfactory and the following day, on October 18, 
1792, the Russians crossed to the northern shore of Hokkaido. A boat 



was scm out to reconnoiter the coast in search of a wintering place, 
and Shabalin, who knew Ainu, even managed to converse with some 
of the natives. The following day, on October 19, a bidarka, with 
the interpreter Tugolukov and Navigator Olesov, reached the mouth 
of Nishibetsu River. Here there was a Japanese tax and storage point, 
and, as the Russians landed, they were met by six Japanese as well 
as a horde of Ainu. One of the Japanese was a Matsumae merchant, 
who had several landing places on lease on Shikotan, Kunashiri, and 
Hokkaido; the remaining four were servants. The Japanese received 
the Russians well, particularly as one of the castaways had come along 
to reassure them. They entertained the Russians at dinner and then 
four of them — the commercial agent and three servants — plus several 
Ainu paid a visit aboard the Russian ship. They told the Russians 
about Nemuro Bay, and left two old Ainu aboard as guides. The 
next day, on October 20, the Russians entered Nemuro, where there 
was a small Japanese settlement and some miserable Ainu huts, 
followed shortly by the official from Nishibetsu. 10 

Laxman and his companions were cordially received on shore. He 
explained the purpose of his visit and expressed the intention of 
constructing some buildings at Nemuro and to stay for the winter. 
The Japanese made no objections and even offered to assist in the 
construction. When Laxman asked whether the natives might give 
him trouble, the Japanese replied that trouble from the Ainu was 
unlikely, but, as a precaution, they themselves would winter at 
Nemuro with him, though, with the exception of a few guards for 
their wharfs, and buildings, and so forth, they usually left for Matsu- 
mae at about this time to return again in May. From them the 
Russians learned the name of the governor of Matsumae and, on 
October 23, sent him a letter, translated into Japanese by Tugolukov 
and the castaways. In it Laxman and Lovtsov asked the governor to 
inform the Edo government of their arrival and, carefully avoiding 
any reference to trade, stated merely that they intended to deliver 
to the capital the castaways, whom they had brought, because of 
Catherine's "high motherly and exclusively humanitarian protec- 
tion." They explained that the lateness of the season had forced 
them to winter in Nemuro and asked that this information be 
forwarded to the central government, so that, if weather or some 

^Ibid., 487-488; Pozdneev, n, 2: 48; Okamoto, 1: 58; Sgibnev, "Popytki," 54; Lagus, 
Erik Laksman, 256-257; Suematsu, 212-213. Years later Philipp Franz von Siebold re- 
named the bay of Nemuro "Laxman Bay." 



other unavoidable circumstance required them to pull ashore before 
reaching the capital, they be permitted to do so unhindered, as 
"neighboring allies," and not be regarded as "antagonistic and infidel 
adversaries." They concluded with the request that the governor 
inform them when a reply from the government was received. 17 

The arrival of Laxman set in motion feverish correspondence 
between Nemuro, Matsumae, and Edo. Matsumae Yunosuke, eldest 
son of Michihiro, Lord of Matsumae, who just that year had received 
permission to retire, duly forwarded the Russian request to the 
capital. He reported that the Russians had instructions to surrender 
the castaways in Edo and had insisted on continuing to the capital 
in the course of the same year, but had been held back at Nemuro. 
They had agreed to wait until the fourth or fifth month of the fol- 
lowing year. If no reply was received by then, they would go to Edo, 
to present their "petition" directly. "In view of these events I have 
sent my followers to that place," continued Matsumae. "I have 
ordered that until the arrival of the orders from the government they 
be detained. As we are dealing here with foreigners, it is difficult to 
calculate what intentions they nurse in their heart; I have ordered, 
however, as far as possible to settle everything peacefully. In view 
of the above reported, I take the liberty of humbly inquiring how to 
act in this case." The specter of a Russian visit to the capital aroused 
frantic defense considerations, and the government maneuvered to 
delay, if not halt, Laxman in the north. It approved of Matsumae 
Yunosuke's measures: "As the Russians have brought with them 
shipwrecked people, measures are to be taken that under no circum- 
stances they sail away before a communication from Edo has arrived. 
It is understood that one must not deal with them rudely and admit 
of impoliteness. They must be treated friendly and also sent sake and 
rice as gifts. They will be permitted to go ashore at Akkeshi, but the 
Ainu as well as the people of Matsumae, insofar as they are not 
officials, must not talk with them." 18 

Permitted to land, treated with courtesy and freely provisioned, 
the Russians had reason to be satisfied at first. On October 25, they 
selected together with the Japanese a place near the Japanese settle- 

i7Polonskii, 488-490; Lagus, Erik Laksman, 257-258. 

is Ramming, Reisen, 30; Pozdneev, 11, 2: 49-51; Otomo, Hokumon sosho, vi, 14-15. 
According to Pozdneev, Torii, Lord of Tamba, informed Matsumae Yunosuke further 
that the officials Ishikawa Rokuemon (Shogen) and Murakami Daigaku were being 
sent to accept the castaways and that Nambu Keijiro, Tsugaru, Lord of Dewa, and the 
Matsumae clan had been instructed to provide guards to protect the Russians. 



ment for the construction of their buildings. By November 28, two 
were completed, and the Russians, with the exception of the neces- 
sary guard aboard ship, moved ashore. Laxman went on small excur- 
sions collecting specimens for the academy in St. Petersburg. He also 
questioned the Japanese on the various subjects outlined in his 
instructions. Gradually, however, time began to weigh heavily on 
the Russians and constant inactivity sapped the health of the crew. 
Scurvy broke out and by spring one of the Russians and the castaway 
Koichi had died of the disease. 

On December 23, an official arrived from Matsumae to inform the 
Russians that their letter had been forwarded to the capital, and to 
protect them from the Ainu, and otherwise be of service. He asked 
them many questions, particularly about geography. Since they were 
going to spend the winter together, he said, he wanted them to visit 
on friendly terms. He refused to accept gifts, which the Russians sent 
him the next day, but borrowed a Russian globe and atlas and copied 
them. In exchange he let the Russians copy a map of Ezo. On Janu- 
ary 2, 1793, he was joined by another Matsumae official. On January 
9, officials from Edo also arrived. Like the Matsumae officials before 
them, they asked question after question, partly to clarify Russian 
intentions, partly to learn more about Russia and the world outside, 
studiously sketching and copying everything in sight. The Russians 
took advantage of this to get answers to questions of their own. 
Frequently the Japanese and the Russians exchanged visits, though, 
with the arrival of officials from Edo, the Matsumae officials no longer 
returned the calls of the Russians. Every day Tugolukov visited the 
officials to improve his Japanese; they did not object, in fact welcomed 
him, because they had to translate the names on the Russian maps 
which they had copied. Tugolukov continued to probe into Japanese 
feelings toward Russia. One day, on February 21, he reported that 
he had secretly learned from the Edo officials, one of whom had 
served in Nagasaki for nine years, that the Japanese had been told 
by the Dutch a long time ago that the Russians cruelly and barba- 
rously mistreated all foreigners, who happened to come to their 
country, and that the letter which they had now brought concerning 
the humanitarian and amicable motivation of the expedition, there- 
fore, was received with mistrust; that they themselves had come to 
Nemuro in the expectation of great danger. Similarly, the ruler of 
Japan would view reports of the arrival of the Russians and of their 
desire for friendship with disbelief, until the testimonials of local 



officials, concerning the friendly disposition of the Russians and 
especially the stories of the castaways, were received. Then — they 
expressed the hope — Laxman's mission might conclude favorably. 
This would not please*the Dutch, they added, for the Russians had 
everything the Dutch had to offer, but were closer to Japan. 19 

On March 30, the Edo officials received orders to return to Ma- 
tsumae, where two high officials with a retinue of five hundred were 
arriving from Edo; on April g, they departed from Nemuro. A week 
later, on April 17, an official arrived from Matsumae to inform the 
Russians that a senior official from the suite of the two high govern- 
ment envoys, who had arrived in Matsumae, was on his way to 
Nemuro, with a group of eight Edo and Matsumae officials, and a 
retinue of sixty. 20 On May 10, the Japanese arrived, accompanied by 
one hundred and fifty Ainu. Two days later, on May 12, the officials 
called on the Russians and invited them to come and confer at their 
place. That afternoon the Russians visited the Japanese. After re- 
freshments, the senior Matsumae official read a paper, which stated 
that in response to the Russian letter to the governor of Matsumae, 
submitted by him with a report to the capital, the sovereign had 
dispatched two officials of the fifth rank to Matsumae. They in turn 
had sent him to Nemuro to tell the Russian commander to come to 
Matsumae by land. Neither Lovtsov nor Laxman would agree to this. 
Laxman pointed out that he had instructions to deliver the cast- 
aways directly by vessel only; that the long and difficult journey over- 
land might entail delays and necessitate a second wintering at this 
barren location; that the climate was one to which the Russians were 
not accustomed, and that they would not separate. The Japanese 
produced every possible argument they could think of to persuade 
the Russians to go by land. For days they reasoned and pleaded in 
vain. Finally, they asked the Russians to go on a Japanese ship, which 
they expected shortly from Akkeshi. This too the Russians refused 
to do. But they agreed to wait for the Japanese vessel, so that they 
could go together, each on his own vessel, since the Japanese had 
intimated that they might lose their heads, if they lost the Russians. 
In the end, the officials only succeeded in delaying the Russians 
and, when the Ekaterina weighed anchor on June 15, the Japanese 

"Polonskii, 492-497, 500; Lagus, Erik Laksman, 257; Pozdneev, n, 2: 52. 

20 Murata Choemon was the senior official. He was accompanied by two junior of- 
ficials from Edo, Oda Hikobe and Inoue Tatsunosuke, as well as six officials from 
Matsumae. (Hiraoka, 89; Polonskii, 497-500.) 



were forced to follow on sea and land. After a month-long, dangerous 
trip along the coast of Hokkaido, during which they touched at 
Akkeshi, but bypassed, because of fog, Edomo, to which they had 
promised to sail, the Russians arrived off Hakodate on July 15, and 
were towed into the harbor the following day. The Mayor of 
Hakodate came out to welcome them on the 15th and visited them 
again on the 16th. On the sixteenth the Edo oflicial, who had left 
on land ahead of them, appeared and announced that his colleagues 
would arrive the following day. Meanwhile, he asked the Russians 
to decide on the number of men who would go to Matsumae and 
on the things to be taken along, so that the necessary preparations 
could be made. In the evening he sent aboard a barrel of sake for 
the crew. On the morning of the seventeenth another barrel was sent 
from the mayor of the city. The same day the Edo official came aboard 
asain, had the vessel moved closer to shore, and invited the Russians 
into the city, offering them his baths. A few hours later a well-known 
merchant and two officials called for the Russians in two large boats. 
On shore the Russians were met by the festively-clad mayor and six 
officials and accompanied along the streets through crowds of spec- 
tators to the house over the doors of which there had been put up 
the sign: rossiiskii dom (Russian House). Here the Russians were 
welcomed by the Edo official and led into chambers which opened 
onto a small rock garden with peach, cherry, apple, and nut trees. 
After their baths, they were treated to a seafood dinner and then 
escorted back to the shore with the same ceremony. 

On July 18, the Edo and Matsumae officials arrived from Nemuro 
and on the nineteenth came aboard together with four other Edo 
officials, newly arrived from Matsumae. The Russians told them that, 
besides the retinue, they planned to send twelve persons to Matsumae 
and asked to be assigned a place where they could dry and store their 
provisions until their return. The following day Japanese carpenters 
came aboard to make boxes for the transportation of the Russian 
belongings and, later in the day, a warehouse was made available. 
The Russians were allowed to go with one of the Matsumae officials 
to the shore facing Hakodate and from there walk to the village of 
Hameda. But, when they asked the next day if they could not stroll 
about Hakodate, the Japanese objected apologetically that this was 
counter to their orders and asked the Russians to have patience un- 



til their arrival in Matsumae where there were officials of greater 
influence. 21 

July 24 was agreed upon as the date of departure for Matsumae. 
The day before, the Russians sent ashore whatever they planned to 


Route of Laxman from 
Matsumae to Hakodate 

take along and at 5 p. m. themselves landed to spend the night in a 
house set aside for them. On the twenty-second the Japanese had 
told Laxman that they did not object to a delegation of twelve, but 

21 Polonskii, 501-518; Lagus, Erik Laksman, 258-259. 



that those, who remained behind, must go with the ship to Edomo. 
Laxman had objected and the Ekaterina was left in Hakodate for 
the time being. From the moment the Russians took up quarters 
on land they were considered and treated as guests of the Japanese 
government. On July 24, after breakfast, the colorful procession got 
under way, headed by two Matsumae officials and their followers. 
Laxman, Lovtsov, and Kokh rode in norimono (covered litters), each 
carried by four men, flanked by relief bearers, and by two officials 
to assist the visitors. Behind each norimono was led a saddled horse, 
should the Russians prefer to mount. The others — translator Tugo- 
lukov, Sergeant Trapeznikov, merchants Vlas Babikov and Ivan 
Palamoshnyi, and five men — rode behind, the horses led by the 
bridle. Every one was assisted by officials at his side. The entire retinue 
numbered four hundred and fifty men. Thus the Russians passed 
through the beautiful Hokkaido countryside, met at every village 
by a delegation of festively-clad elders, sitting on their heels, heads 
bowed. All the way to Matsumae houses had been set aside and pre- 
pared for rest and nourishment, marked as in Hakodate with the in- 
scription rossiiskii dom, and decorated with the crest of the gover- 
nor of Matsumae. In this manner the procession traveled for three 
days. On the fourth day (July 27), at Osamasura village, the procession 
was relieved by another group of ceremoniously-clad officials from 
Matsumae and an escort of six hundred men. While the procession 
was being reshuffled, the Russians changed to clean dress uniforms 
and resumed their journey with new dignity, Laxman riding in the 
gubernatorial norimono, carried by eight men. 

The Russians entered Matsumae at mid-afternoon. The streets, 
through which they passed, had been cleared of the populace, but 
countless spectators of both sexes peered from the wide-open houses 
along the way. Soon the procession reached a building, at the gates 
of which a guard of sixty men had been posted, those on the right 
armed with rifles, on the left with bows and arrows. Here the Rus- 
sians were welcomed by two Matsumae officials, who informed them 
that this was their house and that they themselves were there to be 
of constant assistance. The spacious house, in which the Russians 
were accommodated in private rooms, was furnished for their con- 
venience in Western style — even to the extent of a new wooden floor. 
In front of the house there was a garden and around it a low fence, 
which had been topped with a striped white and blue curtain, so 
that the city and people beyond were hidden from the Russian view. 



Late that afternoon two Edo officials came to discuss the protocol 
of the impending meeting: they expected Laxman to conform to 
Japanese etiquette, to enter bootless and kneel half prostrate on the 
floor. Laxman replied that he could not do so, because the style 
of Western dress was such that the absence of footwear would be all 
too conspicuous, and because it was contrary to Russian custom 
thus to humiliate oneself before another mortal being, such bows 
being due to God alone. The Japanese did not persist and it was 
agreed that Japanese and Russians abide by their own etiquette. 22 


On July 28, Laxman and his countryman proceeded to the con- 
ference building. After the usual refreshments, six officials next in 
rank to the governor appeared, and one of them read a paper which 
acknowledged the receipt of the Russian letter and its Japanese 
translation concerning their arrival in Nemuro, their intention to 
proceed to the capital, and so forth. "One of these letters," read the 
official, "is written in a foreign horizontal script. There is nobody 
in our country who can understand it. The other letter seems to 
have been written in something resembling Japanese kana, but there 
are many spots in it that are completely unintelligible. The kanji 
are also difficult to understand. It is, therefore, impossible to answer 
the letters in detail without causing misunderstanding. As a result 
they are being returned." 23 They handed Laxman the paper just 
read, together with the documents sent by him, then led him to a 
special reception hall where Ishikawa Shogen and Murakami Dai- 
gaku, the envoys of the shogun, waited. 24 After a brief exchange of 
bows, Ishikawa and Murakami had Laxman shown a hundred bags 
of rice, which were a present from their ruler to Laxman's subordi- 
nates, and a box with three ceremonial swords for Laxman himself. 
Then Laxman was handed a paper from the Shogunate and asked 
to sign a receipt, which certified that the paper had been read and 
explained to him. After that both sides retired for refreshments. 
When the meeting was resumed in the formal hall, Laxman addressed 

22 Polonskii, 523-527. 

23Tokutomi, xxv, 128; Ramming, Reisen, 30-31. The Japanese text has been trans- 
lated here; the Russian version is somewhat briefer but similar in meaning. See Lagus, 
576. There is evidence that the Japanese had understood the letters; the assertion that 
they were unintelligible was merely a polite pretext for withholding an answer. 

24 Ishikawa Sakon Shogen Tadafusa and Murakami Daigaku Yoshinori. (Shibusawa 
Eiichi, Tokugawa Yoshinobu-ko den, 1, 110; Tokutomi, xxv, 123. 



the envoys: He conveyed greetings from Governor General Pil and 
stated that his Empress wished him to return the castaways and to 
speak, not only of their fate, but of everything concerning the estab- 
lishment of "allied friendship and complete accord" between the two 
empires. The envoys listened quietly. But, when he repeated that 
he had been instructed to deliver the castaways to Edo, they objected, 
stating that they had been sent here to discuss whatever was neces- 
sary. They were willing to accept the castaways here, but, if the 
Russians insisted that they should be handed over at Edo, they need 
not return them at all. This, they explained, was due, not to lack of 
feeling for their countrymen, but to their fear of breaking their 
basic national laws. Presently, the first meeting came to an end and 
the Russians returned to their building. In the evening the box with 
Laxman's swords was delivered, with personal gifts of Japanese paper, 
costly cups, tobacco, lacquer trays and so forth from the Edo officials 
and the governor of Matsumae.~ r> 

On July 29, and again on July 30, two senior officials came to ex- 
plain the meaning of the paper from the Shogunate. The document 
began with the declaration that Japan's ancient laws could never be 
changed. Only unarmed foreign vessels, like those of the Dutch, could 
visit Nagasaki. Vessels which came to any other part of Japan were 
subject to capture "regardless of their number." Having come to 
this place, without as yet having friendly relations with the Japanese, 
without advance notice, and on an armed vessel, the Russians ought 
to be detained permanently. Since they had come to repatriate Jap- 
anese castaways, had experienced great hardships, and had been un- 
acquainted with Japanese laws, they were being excused this time 
and permitted to depart on condition that they did not return. Un- 
familiar with Russian customs and unable to ascertain the relative 
position of Russia in dignity and greatness, the Japanese could take 
no action regarding the Russian letter beyond the acceptance of the 
castaways. The question of friendly relations could not be determined 
at Matsumae, nor must the Russians continue to Edo. "Being suf- 
ficiently informed that in accordance with the order of your chief 
superiors you intended originally to go from the Kuril Islands di- 
rectly to the capital of Edo, we notify you, therefore, to desist from 
the execution of this order of your superiors and not to raise it again, 
so as not to make further complications for yourself." The document 

25 Polonskii, 527-530; Lagus, Erik Laksman, 260-261; Tokutomi, xxv, 128; Okamoto, 
1: 58-60; Pozdneev, 11, 2: 51-59. 



sternly warned that there was no excuse for any foreign vessel to ap- 
proach the Japanese capital and that such action would be fraught 
with the utmost danger. If the Russians refused to obey these in- 
junctions "they will be taken prisoner and not accepting any ex- 
cuses, will be dealt with according to our laws." In the future, should 
the Russians return the two persons who had remained behind, they 
must go to Nagasaki, passing other parts of Japan beyond the sight 
of land and stopping nowhere else. They must come on one vessel 
only and bring a permit, without which they would not be admitted 
even at Nagasaki. As to the conclusion of friendly relations and a 
trade agreement, the paper promised that there were officials for this 
purpose in Nagasaki, and requesting the Russians to consider all this 
thoroughly, urged them to sail home safely. 26 After the Japanese 
paper had been translated, the question of the acceptance of the 
Russian letter was raised again by the Russians. Ignoring the asser- 
tion that its acceptance would be counter to Japanese law, and brush- 
ing aside such objections to the letter, that it had not been addressed 
properly by name and rank, the Russians argued that, unless the 
Japanese did accept the letter, they could not properly understand 
the reason and intention of the Russian delegation. With what ex- 
planation could Laxman surrender the castaways and return without 
having carried out his instructions? After consulting with their su- 
periors, the officials suggested that Laxman open the letter himself 
and read it to them; they would be willing to listen to it. When 
Laxman did not consent, they stated that perhaps, if shown the let- 
ter, they would accept it; if not, he could read it. They finally settled 
on this, Laxman having an extra copy of the sealed letter. 27 

The following morning, on July 31, Laxman sent gifts in Pil's 
name to the two senior officials. In the afternoon he met with them 
again, presented the letter from Pil, asked for a reply, and said that 
he wished to present to them the two remaining castaways. But the 
two senior officials merely glanced at the letter and returned it to 
Laxman, saying that the Russians knew already from the Shogunate 
paper that such documents could only be accepted for transmittal 
to the capital at Nagasaki. The castaways, on the other hand, they 

26 The text used here is from Polonskii, 574-576. More readable but superficial sum- 
maries may be found in Georg Heinrich von Langsdorff, Voyages and Travels in Vari- 
ous Parts of the World, 204-205 and in Captain Golownin, Memoirs of a Captivity in 
Japan, 1, 15-16. For a Japanese text, differing somewhat in phraseology but not in 
essential meaning, see Hokkaido-shi, 11, 331-333. 

27 Polonskii, 530-531. 



were willing to accept in Matsumae. As agreed upon the previous 
day, Laxman then read Pil's letter. The envoys listened attentively, 
but at the end replied that no decision concerning this could be 
reached in Matsumae. They had, however, a piece of paper, bearing 
the seal of their ruler, and on it could write for the Russians the 
required permit of entry to Nagasaki, where they should go in the 
future to conclude a treaty. The Nagasaki Permit handed to Lax- 
man three days later read as follows: 

Permission for entrance into Nagasaki harbor is granted to one vessel of 
the great Russian empire; as explained already, foreign vessels are for- 
bidden to come to places other than Nagasaki, and we repeat that the 
Christian faith is not tolerated in our country, so that upon arrival there 
be no sign of it, either in act of worship or oblation; should any agreement 
be reached, nothing must be done contrary to our laws as laid down in 
the prescript handed to you by us; it is for this purpose that we give the 
paper to Adam Laxman.- 8 

In the evening the Japanese called for Kodayu and Isokichi at the 
Russian house and the following day (August 1) sent a receipt. Once 
the Russians surrendered the castaways they were not to see them 

On August 1, Laxman expressed his intention of calling on the 
governor of Matsumae to thank him for his continued assistance 
and hospitality and to bring him, as the governor nearest the frontiers 
of the Russian Empire, gifts to further their future acquaintance. 
The Edo officials interfered, saying that it was unnecessary for the 
Russians to thank the governor of Matsumae, since neither he nor 
they could have any need of each other, and whatever he had done 
for them, he had done merely in the execution of his orders from 
the shogunate. Furthermore, he was still a child. What gifts they had 
for him, should be transmitted through one of the Matsumae officials. 
This the Russians did, selecting particularly desirable things, to 
make the best possible impression on the Japanese close to the throne. 
They failed, however, to get permission for their merchants to dis- 
play and barter Russian wares. "You insist in vain on what we can- 
not do for you; it is an important matter and can be permitted only 

28 Bearing the seals of Ishikawa and Murakami, the Japanese text was addressed to 
Adam Laxman and Vasilii (his name was really Grigorii) Lovtsov. Noting that Chris- 
tianity was Japan's "great prohibition," it forbade specifically the bringing of Christian 
images, utensils, and books. According to Polonskii the permit had been cut in two, 
one part being given to Laxman, the other part being retained by the Japanese. 
(Hokkaido-shi, II, 333-334; Polonskii, 544, 576.) 



by special decree of the ruler," the officials replied, and indicated 
again that the slightest mistake on their part might well cost them 
their life. 

On August 2, a Matsumae official came to thank them for the gifts 
to the governor. On the same day Laxman sent, as gifts to Ishikawa 
and Murakami, two large mirrors, a pair of pistols, glassware, and 
two thermometers. He took this opportunity to send them also, for 
transmittal, three letters from his father to Japanese scholars in the 
capital, together with three thermometers, and some specimens of 
natural history. 29 Two mirrors, glassware, and a thermometer were 
also sent as further gifts to the governor of Matsumae. 

It was on August 4 that the last meeting of the envoys took place. 
The Japanese reiterated that it was not in their power to negotiate 
the establishment of commercial relations, but that Laxman had 
received a permit with which he could go to Nagasaki and there 
pursue the matter. Business completed, the Japanese dropped some 
of their formality and chatted amiably with the Russians. The same 
day fresh supplies were presented to the Russians. 

On the morning of August 6, Laxman and his countrymen left 
Matsumae and, again in a procession, retraced their steps to Hakodate, 
where they arrived on the evening of the tenth, stopping at the house 
which had been set aside for them. Several days later, on August 14, 
Laxman was told by Tugolukov that the Japanese envoys had 
secretly asked him for a copy of Pil's letter. Realizing that the Jap- 
anese envoys, unable to accept the letter officially, wished to be certain 
of its content, and believing it important for them to have the full 
text, Laxman had the interpreter give them his copy, which they 
immediately took down and returned. On August 16, Laxman and 
compatriots went back aboard ship. On the morning of August 17, 
the Ekaterina weighed anchor and moved out to the roadstead, but 
was detained there by unfavorable winds for five days. In the early 
hours of August 22, the Ekaterina fired one cannon as signal of her 
departure, weighed anchor, and with sails spread headed out to sea. 
An hour later a worried Matsumae official caught up with the vessel 
to express the displeasure of his superiors at the shot. On the twenty- 
sixth, as they passed Shikotan Island, the Russians sighted two Jap- 
anese vessels behind them, sent out, it appeared, to see if the Ekaterina 

29 The names of these scholars are not known, but it is likely that they were 
Katsuragawa Hoshu and Nakagawa Junan, whose names Laxman knew from the writ- 
ings of Karl Thunberg. (Ramming, Reisen, 32.) 



was really heading for home. Taking a different course than on their 
way to Japan, in order to learn more about the Kuril Archipelago, 
the Russians passed Kunashiri on August 26 and on August 30 tra- 
versed the strait between Etorofu and Uruppu. On September 19, 
after a twenty-eight day journey, the Ekaterina arrived at the Okhotsk 
roadstead, just five days short of one year after having left the same 
harbor, and on the following day (September 20) was towed into the 
Okhota River. 30 

On January 24, 1794 Laxman and Lovtsov presented to Governor 
General Pil the journal and map of their expedition, the collected 
natural specimens, and the five papers received from the Japanese. 31 
The Nagasaki Permit had been cut in two, one half being retained 
by the Japanese. The permit aroused great hopes among the Rus- 
sians. It was interpreted as being a permit to trade in Nagasaki. In 
a lengthy report to the Empress on March 12, 1794, Pil proposed 
that the Laxman expedition be followed up at once by another more 
impressive expedition, on a new and better vessel, with an envoy 
extraordinary. "To appoint the commander of the second expedition 
from among the native Russian staff officers, a person expert in civil 
and political matters and a complete patriot, who may be permitted, 
in order to gain from the Japanese more respect for the business en- 
trusted to him, during the performance of such function to announce 
himself to the Japanese one or two grades higher than his actual rank, 
and to supply him with funds and full instructions, in conformity 
with the proposals in the above-mentioned Japanese papers, as well 
with what is proper for the respect and dignity of the Russian empire 
and necessary for the profit and benefit of trade. . . ." Pil held forth 
on the many advantages of Russo-Japanese trade, producing, among 
others, the interesting argument: that . . . "at the time of some dis- 
agreement with China, after the example of the past years, Russia 
will receive from Japan cotton and in part silk goods, as the Jap- 
anese in the making of their manufactured things excel the Chinese, 
who, having learned of our relations with Japan, will be less haughty 
than now." 32 But Pil's proposal remained unanswered. In 1795 an- 

sopolonskii, 531-537; Tokutomi, xxv, 136, 141; Pozdneev, 11, 2: 59-60; Sgibnev, 
"Popytki," 55; Novakovskii, 56. 

si (1) The paper of the Shogunate, received on July 28; (2) the paper concerning 
the unintelligibility of Pil's letter, received also on July 28; (3) the receipt for the 
castaways, dated August 1; (4) the Nagasaki Permit, received on August 3; (5) a list 
of supplies donated to the Russians by the Japanese government, received on August 4. 

32 Polonskii, 539-548; Sgibnev, "Popytki," 55. 



other expedition to Japan under Professor Laxman himself was con- 
templated in high government circles, but the death of the professor 
in January 1796 put an end to these plans. 33 When Governor Nagel 
of Irkutsk reported to St. Petersburg in November 1795 that an- 
other group of Japanese castaways, 34 driven to the Aleutian Islands 
the preceding year, had been brought to Okhotsk and then to 
Irkutsk the Empress decided that they be returned to their fatherland, 
advantage being taken of this opportunity to obtain additional in- 
formation about Japan and about trade with it. 

An imperial ukase in the summer of 1796 ordered Lieutenant Gen- 
eral Selifontov, Governor General of Irkutsk and Kolyvansk, to make 
arrangements for the return of the castaways to Japan, on either a 
government or private vessel, whichever would be more advantageous 
or more convenient, letting some merchants with goods go along, in 
accordance with the ukase of September 1791. Selifontov, who was 
then in St. Petersburg, asked Nagel to inquire whether any Irkutsk 
merchants would be willing to undertake such an expedition. Nagel 
reported that separate proposals were submitted to him by the 
Irkutsk merchant Kiselev, by a company of Irkutsk merchants, and 
the widow of Shelikhov, but that none of them were prepared to 
provide their own ship and that a government vessel would have 
to be used. He proposed that the expedition be accompanied not 
only by a merchant, but by a representative of the authorities, versed 
in local conditions and in domestic and foreign trade, who could 
enter into negotiations with the Japanese. To entrust such an im- 
portant matter to a daring man and especially to a merchant would 
be impolitic, he argued, not just because he would not be able to 
represent Russia suitably, but also because he would be confined to 
dealing with Japanese merchants, who were known to be at the bot- 
tom of the social scale. Nagel noted furthermore that the distance 
of Nagasaki from Okhotsk would be a barrier to relations and that 
permission should be sought for trade at Nemuro, Hakodate, and 
even more convenient harbors. Most important of all, Nagel re- 
ported that he did not have the necessary funds for outfitting such 
an expedition. 35 Selifontov in turn reported to Catherine the Great 

33 Novakovskii, 66. 

3 * Sgibnev puts the number of castaways at fifteen; Polonskii at sixteen. 

35 Nagel estimated that the expedition would cost up to 31,722 rubles, including the 
cost (8,000 rubles) of constructing a new vessel as no reliable transport was then avail- 
able in Okhotsk. The Laxman expedition had come to 23,217 rubles, much less than 
the 36,318 rubles allotted. 



from Tobolsk in February 1797, recommending Sabanak Kumna- 
metev, a Tobolsk army captain, as head of the expedition, but the 
death of the Empress precluded any further action on her part. When 
Governor Letstseno of Irkutsk in March 1800 requested funds from 
the Minister of Commerce Prince Gagarin for the execution of the 
above plans, Emperor Paul I ruled that in view of the charter re- 
cently granted to the Russian-American Company this was not pos- 
sible; henceforth only the Russian-American Company would be able 
to undertake such expeditions. 30 

Adam Laxman had failed to establish commercial relations with 
Japan. It is possible, some feel even likely, that, had he proceeded 
to Nagasaki, he might have been able to negotiate some sort of 
agreement. But Laxman felt that he had done all that lay within 
his authority, and wished to show the Japanese his sincerity by 
leaving without delay. 37 For this he has been condemned by some 
historians, notably P. Tikhmenev, who wrote that Laxman "did not 
understand at all the purpose of the government in sending him 
to Japan." 38 Sgibnev reasoned that Laxman failed to establish com- 
mercial relations, because the letter to the Japanese government had 
been sent in the name of Pil rather than of the Empress; because he 
had not gone to Nagasaki, and because Laxman himself was not very 
o-ifted. Novakovskii, on the other hand, contends that Laxman did 
better than any foreign contemporaries, who approached Japan, and 
that it was as yet beyond the power of Laxman or anyone else to 
shatter the historical seclusion policy of the Shogunate. 39 Other histo- 
rians debate whether Laxman's low rank hindered or helped his 
mission. In essence the question of whether the Laxman expedition 
as a whole was a failure or a success revolves around the meaning 
of the Nagasaki Permit. To this day Japanese historians disagree 
sharply — some believe that the Nagasaki Permit was just a polite 
brush-off, a device to save time; others that it opened Japan to trade. 
Adam Laxman himself regarded the permit as the fulfillment of 
his assignment. Professor Laxman similarly felt that the expedition 
had been a success, that it had laid the foundations for friendly 
relations between Russia and Japan. He wrote in a letter: "My son 
did not have to deny his Christianity and to curse over the cross, 

36p lonskii, 449-551; Sgibnev, "Popytki," 53-56; Novakovskii, 56. 

37 Keene, 66; Yano, 155. 

38 p. Tikhmenev, Istoricheskoe obozrenie obrazovaniia Rossissko-Amerikanskoi Kom- 
panii i deistvii eia do nastoiashchago vremeni, 1: 10 footnote. 

39 Novakovskii, 57. 



he did not have to subject himself to ridicule or to play the clown, 
as this has happened with the Dutch, but was received with de- 
liberate respect. Who could have thought that a Russian vessel 
which traveled up to six weeks between Tigilsk [on the western coast 
of Kamchatka] and Okhotsk could cross from Hakodate harbor to 
Okhotsk in three weeks?" 40 

Without question the expedition was a success from a scientific 
point of view. It was the first Russian expedition to penetrate into 
the interior of Hokkaido, bringing back more accurate information 
about Japan's northern regions than had Kozyrevskii, Spanberg, 
Walton, and the other Russian explorers. The publications dealing 
with the Laxman expedition may be regarded as the first published 
original Russian accounts of Japan. Officially Catherine the Great 
showed herself pleased with the results of the expedition. Lieutenant 
Laxman was promoted to Captain, Lovtsov and the other partici- 
pants received corresponding increases in rank and financial re- 
wards. Professor Eric Laxman as the guiding light of the whole 
venture was made Collegiate Councilor and awarded the order of 
St. Vladimir, 4th class, and permission was granted to include a 
Japanese sword in the Laxman family coat of arms. 41 

No one can tell whether the expedition might not have proven 
a commercial success, if it had been followed up energetically. There 
is evidence 42 that in the late eighteenth century Japan had been on 
the verge of abandoning the seclusion policy and the prompt ex- 
ploitation of the Nagasaki Permit might conceivably have led to 
trade between Russia and Japan. Without doubt the Japanese at- 
titude at the time of Laxman, as expressed in the treatment of him, 
had been freer and more receptive than it was to be again for more 
than half a century. But as has been seen, the Russian government 
failed to push the matter. This may have been due to Catherine's 
personal skepticism of the commercial potentiality of the Laxman 
expedition and of trade with Japan in general. Kodayu quoted her as 
having told him: "I would like to enter upon reciprocal trade re- 
lations and if you desire the same too, we can send you as many 
ships as you wish. However, there is no persistent desire to trade 
on our part and you can act, therefore, just as you wish. Upon your 
return, transmit these words of mine to the Emperor." And in a 

40 Letter from Professor Laxman to N. I. Panin, dated December 11, 1793, as cited 
in Lagus, Erik Laksman, 268. 

41 Novakovskii, 58, 64; Keene, 72 note 49. 

42 See chapter vi. 



letter to the Frenchman F. M. Grimm she commented on August 9, 
1794: "And what kind of a story is that about the Japanese castaway! 
He was shipwrecked and sent back home again. And that is all 
there is to it. Laxman's son accompanied him and returned with 
knicknacks which were exhibited to us this year in the Tsarskoe Selo 
and for which I wouldn't give ten sous. Let anybody, who so wishes, 
trade there, but not I." 43 The slackening of government initiative 
was due to preoccupation with other problems: the spread of Amer- 
ican and French revolutionary ideas across Europe, fear of Dutch 
and English commercial encroachment, and trouble in North Amer- 
ica between Indians and Russians — so violent that it even interrupted 
the transactions of the Russian-American Company. 44 When the 
Russian government, toward the end of spring 1795, seemed ready 
to make use of the Nagasaki Permit, and Eric Laxman and Shelikhov 
were busy preparing two expeditions to Japan — a scientific one to 
be headed by the professor himself and a commercial one — time had 
practically run out. That summer death cut short Shelikhov's active 
life at the age of forty-eight; in January of 1796 Eric Laxman died 
and, later in the same year, the Empress. The demise of Catherine 
the Great, who, in spite of personal skepticism, had been a major 
force in the realization of the Russian expeditions, was a great loss 
to government interests in the Far East. 45 

The most lasting accomplishment of Lieutenant Adam Laxman 
was the sympathetic impression, which he made on the Japanese, an 
impression which was to outlast the hatred incurred by some of his 
countrymen in later years. 40 In this respect Professor Laxman was 
right when he asserted that his son had laid the foundations for the 
establishment of friendly relations between Russia and Japan. 

43 Pozdneev, n, 2: 66. 

44 Ibid., 11, 2: 89-90; Novakovskii, 65; Znamenskii, 179-180. 

45 Kiuner, 19; A. Adamov, G. /. Shelikhov, 36. 

46Golownin, Memoirs, 1, 105; Novakovskii, 58; Lagus, Erik Laksman, 263. 




j^nP*THE Nagasaki Permit brought back by Lieutenant Laxman 
££ had improved the chances for the establishment of com- 

Xmercial relations with Japan. When the central govern- 
ment failed to pursue the advantage gained, local in- 
dividuals resumed the initiative. Thus the merchant Grio-orii 
Shelikhov, who, in 1775, had been associated temporarily with the 
Secret Voyage to Japan, but, after the shipwreck of the Sviatoi Nikolai 
and other misfortunes, had withdrawn his support, transferring his 
activities to the Aleutian Islands and America, obtained permission 
from Governor General Pil to establish a settlement on Uruppu 
with the dual purpose of engaging in agriculture and of establishing 
trade with the Japanese on Hokkaido through the Ainu. The south- 
ern Kuril Islands were still important to the economy of eastern 
Siberia both in their own right and as a channel for trade with Japan. 
As one Russian historian put it: 

The four islands occupied by the hairy [Ainu], held forth benefits for 
the Siberian region already by the fact that due to their southerly location 
agriculture was possible there. The rye, wheat, barley planted by Antipin 
as an experiment on the eighteenth island had ripened at the proper time 
and had given not a small crop; on the other more southerly islands 
grain could be raised still more conveniently. Furthermore there was on 
them enough wood suitable for shipbuilding. In occupying the southern 
islands, their retention by us from Kamchatka posed no danger. Although 
the population in Kamchatka was insignificant, the southern islands, 
especially Matsumae were not dangerous for us, being populated more 
weakly yet. The hairy ones, being subject to Russia, remaining in the 
middle between the Japanese and the Russians, would serve her as 
middlemen in trade, which of course could not be conducted on a large 
scale, but only to the extent that was necessary for the small number of 
those who lived in Kamchatka and Okhotsk. Fish and animals would be 
the major objects of exchange with the Japanese for their grain com- 
modities. 1 

In 1795 a group of some thirty settlers and families, recruited 
from Siberian exiles, were sent to Uruppu under the leadership of 

1 Polonskii, 467. 



the Irkutsk commoner Vasilii Zvezdochetov. 2 According to Japanese 

sources, the settlers got along well with the natives and acquainted 
them with some of the more rudimentary aspeets of Russian culture; 
they even engaged in trade with Ainu from Akkeshi. When Japanese 
officials learned of this, some were outraged. They regarded the Rus- 
sian penetration of Uruppu as an affront to Japan, the laws of which 
had been explained to Laxman, and urged that the settlers be cap- 
tured or killed. Calmer advisers pointed out that if the Russians on 
Uruppu were merchants, as reported, there was no cause for alarm 
and that they could be forced to withdraw by the simple expedient 
of depriving them of the means of trade. This policy the shogunate 
adopted with success. 3 The Ainu of Akkeshi, Nemuro, and Kuna- 
shiri were forbidden to cross over to Uruppu. At the same time Jap- 
anese were sent to settle and fortify Runashiri and Ktorofu, while 
a post was erected on Uruppu itself, proclaiming the island Japanese 
territory. 1 By the beginning of the nineteenth century, Japanese 
measures and an overly strict regime imposed by Zvezdochetov had 
prompted the return of fourteen of the best settlers to Kamchatka, 
and before long of seven more families. Zvezdochetov and the others 
died on Uruppu, and with them Shelikhov's plan of trade with 


In 1800, Emperor Paul stated that all further attempts to establish 
relations with Japan be left in the hands of the Russian-American 
Company. Shelikhov was no longer alive, yet in a sense he remained 
involved, for the company was his "brainchild." When he had turned 
his attention to the Aleutian Islands and America in the late 1770's, 
quick fortunes in fur were being made there with utter recklessness. 
Driven by the desire to acquire as rapidly as possible the largest 
number of furs with the least expenditure of labor, the hunters ex- 
terminated the animals without cessation, adding to their booty 
by shrewd trading with the natives and by extortion and plunder. 
"Being themselves a wanton and desperate people, largely from among 
criminals exiled to Siberia," wrote Lieutenant Commander Golovnin 
years later, "they counted their life for nothing and thought the 

2Sgibnev, "Popytki," 56; Pozdneev, 11, 2: 14; Novakovskii, 67. 

sHokkaido-shi, 11, 4i3"4 1 5- . c 

4Znamenskii 179-180; Otomo, Hokumon sosho, vi, 51-57. For Japanese pictures ot 
the blue-eyed red-hairs and their dwellings on Uruppu, see Hokkaido-shi, v, 367-369. 
See also Lensen, Report from Hokkaido, 20; the man on the right appears to be 

5 Novakovskii, 67; Sgibnev, "Popytki," 55. 



same of the life of others, while the poor Aleutians they regarded as 
hardly better than cattle; consequently the fear of retribution in the 
afterlife, which affects sometimes also less inveterate scoundrels, could 
make no impression on them, while civil punishment they had no 
reason to fear, and therefore besides plunder, they often committed 
murders, taking away wives and children and inflicted all kinds of 
outrages on the poor inhabitants." 6 Shelikhov realized the necessity 
of substituting for such chaotic ravaging of the region a more tem- 
perate, well-planned, and cooperative effort of a company of mer- 
chants. In 1785, he joined hands with the brothers Ivan and Mikhail 
Golikov. The success of their cooperation attracted other merchants, 
notably Mylnikov and his companions, and resulted in the founding 
of the United American Company (Soedinenaia Amerikanskaia 
Kompaniia) in 1797. Better organized in its operations than the 
locust-like hunters that had plagued the islands before, the company 
strangled competition, but did not visibly alleviate the lot of the 
natives. 7 Catherine the Great had merely tolerated the company; 
preoccupied with Turkey and Sweden, she had refused, in 1788, to 
back Shelikhov's grandiose plans of colonization on the American 
continent and the Aleutians. Now that reports of the continued 
oppression of the natives by the company poured into the capital, 
Catherine's successor Paul I contemplated its dissolution. 8 The 
United American Company was saved from this fate by the inter- 
cession of the influential chief procurator of the First Department 
of the Senate, Nikolai Rezanov. 

Rezanov had personal reasons for backing the company. He had 
married Shelikhov's daughter, receiving company stock as dowry. 

e V. M. Golovnin, "Zapiska o sostoianii Rossiisko-Amerikanskoi Kompanii v 1818 
godu," 54-92. 

7 Planning to establish a permanent Russian settlement on Kad'iak (Kodiak) to in- 
sure no less permanent profits for himself, Shelikhov began by occupying a small harbor 
on the southern side of the island, calling it Gavan' Trekh Sviatitelei (Three Saints 
Harbor). When he departed for Okhotsk in 1786 he left the merchant Samoilov in 
charge. Samoilov was succeeded by Evstrata Delarov in 1788, and Delarov by Aleksandr 
Baranov in 1790. In the twenty-seven years of his sway Baranov, according to Golovnin, 
not only failed to civilize the natives, but "himself grew wild and became a degree 
lower than a savage!" Scheming to obtain government privileges Shelikhov had soft- 
pedalled his commercial interests, claiming to be concerned primarily with winning new 
territory for Russia and new converts for the Orthodox Church. His request that mis- 
sionaries be made available was granted, and half a score of monks, among them arch- 
mandrate Goasaf, were sent out at company expense. Once the missionaries arrived in 
Kad'iak, however, they were given neither the means nor the opportunity to engage in 
religious work, but were made to labor in the fields. (Golovnin, "Zapiska," 52-54.) 

s Adamov, 30; Novakovskii, 69-70. 



After Shelikhov's death Rezanov had become majority stockholder 
and chairman of the board of directors. Noted tor his persuasive 
oratory, Rezanov succeeded not merely in saving the company from 
dissolution, but in obtaining for it additional privileges and im- 
perial support. He did this so skillfully that later Paul's successor, 
Alexander I, members of the royal family and many other distin- 
guished persons in the capital eagerly bought stock in his company. 
To be sure, there was more involved than merely Rezanov's persua- 
siveness. It so happened that the interests of the merchants coincided 
with those of the government as a whole. In the words of a Soviet 
historian, "the latter, not wishing to take the risk of international 
complications which might result from the official annexation of the 
American colonies to the Russian Empire, saw in the creation of a 
mighty monopolistic company a way to mask its own expansion 
along the shores of the Pacific." 9 

On July 19, 1799, the United American Company was granted a 
privilege for twenty years, and as a sign of imperial patronage was 
renamed the Russian-American Company (Rossiissko-Amerikanskaia 
Kompaniia). This Russian-American Company was in nature sim- 
ilar to the British and Dutch East India Companies. It received a 
monopoly on the exploitation and administration of northwestern 
America above latitude 55 N., of the Aleutian and Kuril Islands, 
and, upon further exploration, of territory further to the south un- 
possessed as yet by another power. The company was entitled to 
maintain military and naval forces, to build fortifications, occupy 
newly discovered territories, and trade with foreign countries. It had 
the exclusive privilege to concern itself with the establishment of re- 
lations with Japan. The general management of the company, now 
that it was under imperial patronage, was moved from Irkutsk to 
the capital; the main administrative center in the colonies was es- 
tablished at Novo-Arkhangelsk, the major port of Sitka Island. 10 In 
the eyes of some, the tsarist government saw in the company a tool 
for making the northern Pacific an "inland sea" of the Russian Em- 
pire. "This plan presupposed the further entrenchment of Russia 
along the west coast of North America, including California, the 
Hawaiian Islands, the southern part of Sakhalin and the mouth of 

9 S. B. Okun, The Russian-America?! Company, 24-25. 

10 Golovnin, "Zapiska," 55-80; Okun, 37-45. Golovnin gives the text of the Act of the 
United American Company (August 14, 1798) as well as of the imperial proclamation 
pertaining to the estahlishment of the Russian- American Company. 



the Amur. These colonies, together with Kamchatka, Alaska, and 
the Aleutians, which already belonged to Russia, were to make that 
country the all-powerful master of the whole northern Pacific." 11 

The Russian- American Company faced many problems. In 1802, 
for example, its wooden fortress of Mikhailovsk on Sitka and a com- 






c/frcilc Oc 


17Q9 , 

§§%- received 'from Czar 1 

title fo Alaska .with I 

righf to fortify towns % , 

control commerce, I 

declare uuar, eh. \ 

1 Russian Activity 1 

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. 1728-186? 


Vitus Bering Danish-born Russian 

Wavy Captain, explored 'St/vit 

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Gregor Shelikov 

established firsh jgl Q 

^ an .F°J° n ^ Colony of 95Russianr 
mnoHHJmenc* esta y b jf s hed about- 
40 miles North of 
Bodega Bay San- 

Unsuccessful romance between Nikolai 
Rezanov anddaughter of Commandant 


Alaska form a//y trans- 
ferred 7b United States, 



ofSp. California near/a 'paveo 'ojou c\^%:r- ~ 7 

for Russ/anexpans/oniothe Souk \ X^FBANOSCO 



pany ship were attacked by Indians. 12 The main obstacle to the de- 
velopment of the Russian colonies, however, lay in the inadequacy 
of transportation. The cumbersome effort in which over four thou- 
sand horses were used every year to supply the eastern regions via 
Yakutsk and Okhotsk forced up the cost of operating to excessive 

11 Okun, 50. 

12 Ibid., 54. English traders are said to have been involved in the attack. Harold Mc- 
Cracken believes that there is "very strong circumstantial evidence" that Americans gave 
"considerably more than casual encouragement" to the native attack. {Hunters of the 
Stormy Sea, 218-226.) 



levels. Moreover, such bulky objects as anchors and cables could 
not be transported at all, and even lighter objects did not always 
reach their destination, tor the caravans were frequently attacked 
and plundered. Still greater hazards had to be overcome by the poorly 
equipped and insufficiently manned ships as they ventured into the 
troublesome waters of the northern Pacific, where dangerous sailing 
conditions prevailed many months a year, to supply Russian out- 
posts on the Kuril and Aleutian Islands and on the American con- 
tinent. It was for this reason that Captain Adam Johann von Krusen- 
stern, an officer in the service of the Russian-American Company, de- 
veloped a plan for the more regular supply of the colonies by sea, 
from Kronstadt around the world by way of the Cape of Good Hope 
or by way of Cape Horn. At the same time, he believed, Russian 
trade with China could be made far more profitable if, instead of 
carrying furs and other products by land to Kiakhta, as was being 
done, they could be transported directly by sea to Canton. Krusen- 
stern proposed that Russian vessels proceed from Kronstadt to the 
Aleutian Islands, Northwestern America, and Kamchatka with sup- 
plies for the colonies, there take on furs and with them sail to Canton, 
where they could be traded for Chinese goods needed in Russia. 
On the way back he envisaged stops at Manila, Batavia, and Indian 
ports for the purchase of additional products. Thus at one and the 
same time, Krusenstern calculated, the colonies could be supplied 
more fully and cheaply, trade with China would be increased, Euro- 
pean Russia's yearly expenditure for Chinese and East Indian goods 
would be greatly reduced, and Russia would be able to furnish Far 
Eastern goods to Germany and other European countries at lower 
prices than the English, Dutch, and Swedes. Krusenstern's plan, as 
advocated by Rezanov, captured the imagination of both commercial 
and governmental leaders, among them Minister of the Navy Mordvi- 
nov and Minister of Commerce Count Rumiantsev, and, in 1802, 
it was agreed to send the projected round-the-world expedition as 
an experiment in thus supplying the colonies. 13 Emperor Alexander I 
decided that advantage should be taken of this expedition to send 
an embassy also to Japan, and a special courier was dispatched to 
Irkutsk to bring to the capital the Nagasaki Permit obtained by 
Laxman. In keeping with Pil's earlier recommendation that a new 
embassy to Japan be headed by a man of distinction, Rezanov, who 

is Novakovskii, 71-72; Pozdneev, 11, 2: 89-90. 



had repeatedly advocated the resumption of negotiations with the 
Japanese in the belief that trade with Japan was the only rational 
means of supplying the colonies, was named envoy. 14 Rezanov had 
just lost his beloved wife and at first seemed reluctant to accept the 
assignment. He wrote to a friend: 

You surely know already, how heavily burdened my fate is. Thus, my 
esteemed friend, I have lost everything. The demise of my wife, who 
constituted all the happiness, all the felicity of my days, has made for me 
my whole life desolate. . . . Estranged from everything in the world, giving 
myself over to my sole grief, I thought of resigning, thought, having 
occupied myself with the upbringing of the children, of dedicating the 
remainder of my days to my feelings, but here too I met with an obstacle. 
The Emperor graciously concerned himself with my situation, at first 
advised me to distract myself, finally suggested a voyage; then, having 
gradually led me to agreement, announced to me the wish that I take 
upon myself an embassy to Japan. For a long time I declined this dif- 
ficult exploit; his gracious talks with me at every meeting, finally the 
calling of myself to him to the office and his persistent persuasions de- 
termined me to comply. . . . He gave his word to protect my orphans, 
while I affirmed to him, that every hour I am ready to sacrifice my life 
for him. 15 

To add luster to the embassy, Rezanov was made Chamberlain 
of His Imperial Highness and Cavalier of St. Anna First Rank, and 
was provided with a retinue of several officials. He was given far 
greater authority than Adam Laxman had had. The latter, it will 
be recalled, had been envoy only, with Lovtsov essentially in com- 
mand of the expedition. Now Krusenstern was named commander 
of the vessels and director of scientific work, but Rezanov was placed 
in command of the expedition as a whole, so that Krusenstern's 
authority was limited to nautical and disciplinary measures. This 
was contrary to the contract originally made by the company with 
Krusenstern and Iurii Lisianskii, the commander of one of the 
vessels. Rezanov's assumption of over-all command of the expedition 
and of company business in America deprived these officers not 
merely of prestige but also of a considerable amount of money, which 
they had been promised in addition to their regular salary. This 
circumstance ignited a spark of dissatisfaction, which later almost 
inflamed the expedition in open mutiny. Upon completion of the 
mission to Japan Rezanov was to inspect the Russian possessions in 

1 4 Sgibnev, "Popytki," 57; Polonskii, 551-552. 

15 Letter of Rezanov to Ivan Ivanovich Dimitriev, 1331-1332. 



America, load the vessels, and go to Canton for commercial negoti- 
ations with the Chinese before returning to Russia by way of the 
Cape of Good Hope. 10 

The embassy to Japan was given three main tasks: (1) to demand 
trade with Japan on the basis of the permit brought back by Lax- 
man; (2) on the way back from Japan to describe as much as cir- 
cumstances would permit the Kuril Islands, Sakhalin, the Amur 
Estuary and the Strait of Tatary; (3) to investigate the whole eastern 
border of Siberia and to take such measures as might be necessary 
to carry out the mission. 17 The Russian press commented: 

The expedition of Rezanov will go to Japan in order to open and estab- 
lish commercial relations for Russia with these islands, where the in- 
dustry and ignorance of the people are equally surprising, where some 
skills have reached a degree of perfection unknown to us, but where 
reason is still in the cradle. If the embassy will succeed in its intention, we 
shall get from Japan some things much better than from China. Jap- 
anese tea, porcelain, lacquer, silk and cotton materials are better than 
Chinese ones. The Russian American Company can obtain them in ex- 
change for its goods. As for the Japanese with all their rudeness, they 
are not such spiteful and cunning swindlers in trade, as our neighbors 
the Chinese. 18 

As in the case of the Laxman expedition, the return of castaways 
was to cloak the Rezanov mission in humanitarian justification, and 
a group of Japanese, brought from the Aleutians in 1795, was dis- 
patched to the capital from Irkutsk together with the Nagasaki Per- 
mit. These castaways came from the district Ojika in Mutsu Province 
(Sendai). In the closing days of 1793, they had sailed from Ishi-no- 
maki Harbor in the domain of Sendai on Captain Heibe's large 
transport Wakamiya Maru with a cargo of construction materials 
and rice destined for Edo, when their vessel was disabled in a sud- 
den storm on January 2, 1794, and driven into the open sea. As 
customary, the sixteen-man crew cut down the mast and jettisoned 
most of the cargo to keep the vessel afloat, shaved their hair, and 
supplicated Shinto and Buddhist deities with holy vows. For three 
months they were carried about by shifting winds and the current of 
the ocean. When they came across a shell-covered log, they consulted 
the oracle regarding the distance of land, by writing several num- 

16 K. Voenskii, "Russkoe posol'stvo v Iaponiiu v nachale xix veka," 127-128; Polon- 
skii, 552; Novakovskii, 73; Tikhmenev, 1: 102-103. 

17 Sgibnev, "Popytki," 57. 
is Novakovskii, 73. 



bers on a piece of paper, then made a make-shift mast from the arm 
of the broken rudder and spreading sail sped up their journey. Two 
months later, in June, 1794, they finally sighted a snow-covered, 
mountainous island and putting three bags of rice, the guardian 
deity of the ship (two paper dolls, a lock of hair of the wife of the 
ship owner, and two dice), and their most essential belongings into 
a boat, went ashore, letting the Wakamiya Maru run aground among 
the cliffs. The island on which they landed was one of the Andre- 
ianovskie Islands of the Aleutian Archipelago, somewhat to the north 
of the island on which Kodayu had been cast. Here they were found 
by Ainu and all but Captain Heibe, who died shortly after arrival, 
were taken to a Russian hunter, who sailed with them on their 
boat to a place where a Russian post was located. For a year they 
stayed at this spot, well-treated by the Russians. Then, on May 21, 
1795, they boarded a Russian vessel, whose captain understood some 
Japanese, and, after touching at several other islands, reached 
Okhotsk. From there they were dispatched by the local authorities 
to Yakutsk and then — having suffered the loss of one more comrade 
— to Irkutsk, where they remained for eight years, burying still an- 
other countryman. In Irkutsk they were amazed to make the ac- 
quaintance of Nikolai Petrovich Kolotygin (formerly Shinzo), a 
shipmate of Kodayu, who was teaching Japanese to six students in 
the School of Navigation, and now was charged with attending to the 
needs of the castaways. Kolotygin, who had married a Russian wife 
and had a son by her, had learned to speak and write Russian well. 
When the castaways were sent to the capital together with the cour- 
ier, who bore the Nagasaki Permit, Kolotygin accompanied them. 
On the way to St. Petersburg three of the Japanese fell ill and had 
to be left behind. Of the ten who reached the capital and were gra- 
ciously received by the Emperor, only four expressed the desire to 
be repatriated: Gihei, Tajuro, Tsudayu and Sahei. 19 

The Russian government made no secret of the impending ex- 
pedition, and news of the preparations appeared in all the journals 

19 V. Turkovskii, "Krugosvetnoe puteshestvie neskol'kikh iapontsev cherez Sibir' sto let 
nazad," 198-199; Ramming, Reisen, 50-59. Usually known by their given names only, 
three of the castaways had surnames as well: Okuda Gihei, Okuda Tajuro, and Doi (or 
Tsuchii) Tsudayu. Among those who stayed behind and became Russian subjects there 
was Zenroku of Ishi-no-maki, who in later years was to come within sight of his land of 
origin as interpreter to Lieutenant Commander Rikord. (Umemori Saburo, Nichi-Ro 
kokko shiryo, 34; Otomo, Hokumon sosho, vi, 88-90; Akaba Sozo, "Tsushi Kiserefu 
[Zenroku Ishi-no-maki], 2: 44-45.) 



and newspapers. Lieutenant Commander Lisianskii and a ship- 
builder were sent to Hamburg, Copenhagen, and London to pur- 
chase suitable vessels. In London they acquired for twenty-five thou- 
sand pounds sterling two modern ships of the latest construction, 
capable of making eleven knots: the Leandra 20 and the Thames, 
respectively re-named Nadezhda (Hope) and Neva. This dependence 
on western European products and experts later aroused the anger 
of patriotic Russians. Golovnin wrote: 

. . . about all this the foreigners knew from the newspapers, and the 
English took for the two vessels at least twenty-five percent more than 
they could have been purchased for, if one had not trumpeted so much 
about the great undertakings of the great company; but not only did 
the company consider Russian shipwrights unable to build ships, worthy 
of its great undertakings; it purchased at high prices in London clothing 
and footwear for the crews, a great quantity of supplies, the salt-meat 
alone from four different countries; nor was this all: it appeared to the 
company that in Russia there were neither physicians nor scholars and 
therefore it obtained from Germany at high salary Germans: physicians, 
an astronomer, naturalists and a writer, and thereby furnished the means 
for foreigners to learn the true condition of the colonies, as one of them 
[Langsdorff], upon return, published his journey in German, portraying 
vividly what the Russian American Company was. 21 

This had occurred in spite of the fact that as soon as word of the 
round-the-world expedition and embassy to Japan spread through 
St. Petersburg, Rezanov was swamped with requests from Russian 
scholars, linguists, doctors, officers, and officials, who wished to go 
along. 22 

Meanwhile the Minister of Commerce (and not the Minister of 
Foreign Affairs) drew up instructions for Rezanov, dealing primarily 
with the diplomatic aspects of his mission to Japan. A great deal of 
thought and research must have gone into the preparation of these 
instructions, because they displayed a remarkable knowledge of Japan 
and foresaw and considered thoroughly the various situations with 
which Rezanov would be confronted. Rumiantsev noted, for ex- 
ample, that Rezanov would be showered by the Japanese with in- 
numerable questions and that all his answers and all conversations 
would be recorded verbatim. He would be asked why and from 
where he had come, what he had brought, where he was born, and 

20Voenskii, 126. Novakovskii gives the name as Leonora. (78) 
21 Golovnin, "Zapiska," 94. 
22Voenskii, 139. 



which country he represented. He would be asked about Russia — 
about its size, boundaries, products, form of government, military 
forces, enemies, allies, laws, customs, and so forth. He would be 
asked about himself — his character, rank, position, and about his 
credentials — how they are written, sealed, folded, and safeguarded. 
He would be asked about things which the Japanese knew already, 
and his replies would be recorded. He would be questioned by the 
officials whom he would meet at first, and later by ministers, cour- 
tiers, and other persons of note. "It is necessary, therefore," Rumian- 
tsev warned, "that in your answers you be very careful and not only 
always have them in your memory, but that you also write them 
down in order not to trip up in your words later on." Regarding 
Japanese queries concerning Russia, Rumiantsev wrote: 

You will reply to all these questions simply and without pretense. You 
will say that Russia in its size is the first country in Europe and will 
explain its boundaries: that the climates in the empire are different, 
because it occupies half the world; that Russia with her might keeps 
in respect and balance all Europe, China, the Turkish Empire and Persia; 
that her forces including infantry and cavalry number up to 700,000; that 
this land is governed by an autocratic sovereign, and as the Japanese 
respect absolute autocracy, do describe the autocratic Russian power 
in all its worth; you may say, by the way, that many Asiatic rulers and 
lords such as Siberian, Gruzian and Kalmykian, having submitted to his 
power now are simply among his notable subjects; that the Russian 
Emperor, having accepted the ancestral throne and having seen the ex- 
panse of his boundaries, marked by the glorious conquests of his an- 
cestors, has decided to rule in tranquility and peace with the whole 
world and that his realm is a center of sciences, arts and laws. 23 

Rumiantsev anticipated that Rezanov would be asked whether the 
Russian Emperor was dependent on the Pope like other rulers of 
whom the Japanese knew, and instructed Rezanov to reply that the 
Tsar not only was in no way dependent on the Pope, but did not 
recognize him as a spiritual head, but dealt with him merely as 
with a temporal ruler of a small territory. Rezanov was to empha- 
size at once the limitless temporal and spiritual autocracy of the 
Tsar, his bravery, his humility, his thirst for knowledge about other 
countries, and his appreciation of the value of human life, expressed 
by his return of the castaways to their fatherland. Rumiantsev noted 
that Rezanov would gain much respect if, when approaching the 
person of the sovereign, he would take off his sword and give it to 

23 Ibid., 132-133; Novakovskii, 75. 



someone, who was with him, before being told to do so; he was to 
stand before the ruler head uncovered. "I cannot repeat to you 
enough how essential it will be for you to consider the dissimilarity 
of their customs with ours and not to degrade theirs," admonished 
Rumiantsev. "Such rules prescribed Louis XIV himself, the ruler 
famous among monarchs for the meticulous care with which he 
guarded the monarchal dignity, when he outfitted an embassy to 
Japan.- 1 In 1624 tne envoys of the King of Spain, two cavaliers of 
the Golden Fleece, were not received, and returned only because 
they did not wish to conform with Japanese customs." Going on to 
the main purpose of the expedition — the matter of trade — the Min- 
ister of Commerce emphasized the following objectives (which 
showed, incidentally, how Russia had misunderstood the meaning 
of the Nagasaki Permit: (1) the broadening of the rights given to 
Laxman: to negotiate permission for more than one Russian vessel 
to visit Nagasaki and other harbors; (2) the establishment of trade 
by barter on Matsumae (Hokkaido) if the Japanese refused to admit 
more than one vessel to Nagasaki; (3) the bartering of Russian 
wares for Japanese ones through the Ainu of Uruppu, if the Jap- 
anese did not agree to direct trade on Matsumae either; (4) the 
gathering of information about Sakhalin — whether it belonged to 
China or Japan, and how it could be reached for the establishment 
of trade; investigation of what the Japanese knew about the Amur 
Estuary; what the relations were between Japan, China, and Korea; 
whether the Liu Ch'iu Islands belonged to Japan— and if inde- 
pendent, to try to reach them and establish commercial relations. 
Rumiantsev concluded his instructions with an explanation of the 
political set-up in Japan: "It is known to all, that in Japan there 
reigned a spiritual emperor; that one of his military commanders, 
having rebelled against his authority, succeeded in 1583 to promote 

l o 

24 Louis XIV had decided to send an embassy to Japan on the advice of Jean Bap- 
tiste Colbert, his well known minister and the founder of the French East India Com- 
pany. In 1665 Francois Caron set out as envoy to Japan, but died on the way in Lisbon. 
The French embassy did not materialize, therefore, but the excellent instructions pre- 
pared by Caron himself, who for many years had been director of the Dutch factory on 
Deshima and had acquired considerable knowledge of Japan, were preserved in the 
French Archives. No doubt Rumiantsev consulted them. Paragraph eight of his own 
instructions to Rezanov, for example, was almost identical with Colbert's instructions 
to Caron. Colbert: "On fera I'objection savoir si le Roy de France depend du Pape, 
comme le Roy d'Espagne et d'autres. Vous repondrez qu'Il n'en depend point: le Roy 
de France ne connaissant personne au dessus de Lui. . . ." Rumiantsev: "Sprosiat vas, 
zavisit li gosudar' rossiiskii ot papy po primeru nekotorykh izvestnykh irn monarkhov? 
Vy dadite otvet, chto on ot papy nimalo ne zavisit. . . ." (Voenskii, 134-135) 




himself to imperial dignity under the name Kubo, while the spiritual 
emperor continued his existence under the title Dairi and lives in 
splendor and esteem, but in utter insignificance, so that, having his 
own capital, he is forgotten and consequently you are by no means 
to seek access to him." 25 

In addition to his instructions, Rezanov received the imperial 
letter addressed to "By the Grace of God His Tenjin-Kubo Majesty, 
the Autocratic Potentate of the extensive Japanese Empire, Most 
Excellent Emperor and Sovereign," that is to the shogun, as Rumian- 
tsev's explanation of the term "kubo" indicates, 26 magnificently writ- 
ten in gold on a large sheet of vellum paper, beautifully decorated, 
with the names of both rulers written in large letters, signed by 
Emperor Alexander I himself and countersigned by his chancellor, 
as well as translations of it in Manchu and Japanese, similarly dec- 
orated, but unsigned. The three documents were carefully placed, 
unfolded, in a cover of gold brocade, with gold galloon along the 
edges, and with four gold tassels at the ends; the case was then placed 
in a handsomely made redwood box, which in turn was placed in 
a box lined with green cloth. For showing to the Nagasaki author- 
ities, if necessary, Rezanov received copies of these documents, 
printed on Dutch paper of a smaller size. 27 

In August 1803, 28 after a personal inspection of the vessels by 
Alexander I, Minister of Commerce Rumiantsev, Minister of the 
Navy Chichagov, and the commander of the expedition and Chief 
Plenipotentiary of the Russian-American Company, Envoy Extraor- 
dinary and Minister Plenipotentiary, Chamberlain Nikolai Reza- 
nov, the Nadezhda and Neva left Kronstadt. Both were commercial 
vessels, but with the permission of the Emperor they flew the naval 
flag in honor of the embassy and as protection against the corsairs 
who were then roaming the seas. 29 The Nadezhda, captained by Kru- 
senstern, had been outfitted at government expense; the Neva, com- 

25Voenskii, 132-136; Novakovskii, 75-77. 

26 The term kubo or kubo sama originally referred to retired emperors or to em- 
perors whose reign preceded that of the reigning sovereign. As the military dictators 
usurped imperial power and began to fashion their existence after that of the imperial 
court, however, the appellation was transferred in popular tongue to the Shogun, while 
the Emperor was known as Dairi. Divine and imperial as Tenjin may sound, however 
often "Emperor" creeps into the Russian documents, it appears clear from the instruc- 
tions of Rumiantsev that the Shogun was meant. 

27 Voenskii, 136. 

28 Sgibnev gives the date as August 15, Novakovskii as August 19. 

29 Voenskii, 140; (Oct.), 201-202. 



manded by Lisianskii had been outfitted at company expense and 
was to proceed directly to the Russian colonies without first stop- 
ping at Japan. The Nadczhda carried eighty-five persons, among 
them Rezanov, the four castaways, and the cavaliers of the embassy: 
Major Ermolai Frideritsii, an expert in map-making and military 
science; Aulic Councilor Fedor Fosse, who was familiar with local 
conditions in Siberia; and Lieutenant Count Tolstoi, of the Guards 
of the Preobrazhensk regiment. 30 The two vessels sailed together 
via Copenhagen, England, Tenerife, and the St. Catherine Islands, 
around Cape Horn (March 15, 1804) into the Pacific to Nukuhiva 
(one of the Marquesas Islands) and to the Sandwich Islands (Hawaii), 
where their paths divided, the Neva going directly to the colonies, 
the Nadezhda to Kamchatka. 

At Nukuhiva the friction between Krusenstern and Rezanov, 
caused by Rezanov's assumption of the over-all command, conflicting 
personalities, and possibly by national differences (Krusenstern was 
Estonian), flared up in a violent scene. When Krusenstern instructed 
Lieutenant Romberg and Dr. Espenberg to get fresh supplies from 
the natives in exchange for various things, Rezanov ordered the 
commercial agents to acquire similarly objects of ethnographic inter- 
est. Krusenstern agreed to assist them in this, but instead not only 
failed to assist them, but took away everything they had obtained 
in accordance with Rezanov's orders. Rezanov was enraged and the 
following day, on May 14, seeing the captain on the quarter-deck 

30 Other passengers of note were: Doctor of Astronomy Johann Casper Horner, Pro- 
fessors of Natural History Langsdorff and Wilhelm Gottfried Tilesius (author of Natur- 
historische Frilchte der ersten kaiserlich russischen unter dem Commando des Herrn v. 
Krusenstern vollbrachten Erdumsegelung [St. Petersburg, 1813]), Doctor of Medicine 
Moritz Liband, Doctor of Medicine and Botany Brinkin, the artist Kurliandtsev, regular 
priest Gedeon (for the survey of the newly christened converts in America), chief com- 
missioner of the company Fedor Shemelin, and the Company agent Korobitsyn. Officers: 
Lieutenant Commander Krusenstern, Lieutenant Senior Grade Makar Ratmanov, Lieu- 
tenants Fedor Romberg, Petr Golovachev, Ermolai Levenstern, Ensign Baron Faddei 
Billingsgauzen, Navigator Filipp Kamenshchikov, Navigator's Mate Vasilii Spolokhov, 
Doctor Karl Espenberg, his assistant Ivan Sidgam, Sergeant of Artillery Raevskii, and 
the army cadet brothers Otto and Moritz von Kotzebue, sons of the German playwright 
Augustus von Kotzebue, who had dramatized Benevszky's uprising on Kamchatka. Otto 
von Kotzebue so distinguished himself on this voyage that in 1815, on Krusenstern's 
recommendation, he was appointed at the early age of twenty-eight commander of Rus- 
sia's second round-the-world expedition, charged with the exploration of the polar 
regions and of Polynesia. As regards the father, one time Russian general consul in 
Prussia, he was assassinated in 1819 by a German student who regarded him as a 
dangerous enemy of German freedom. (Novakovskii, 78-79; Konigliche Akademie der 
Wissenschaften, Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie, xm, 151-156; xvi, 772-784; xxxvm, 




went up to him and asked if he was not ashamed of behaving like a 
child and taking pleasure in not giving him the means for carrying 
out his assignment. 

"How did you dare to tell me that I behave like a child?" Krusen- 
stern yelled. 

"Thus, Sir," replied Rezanov, "I dare it very much as your su- 

"My superior! Can this be? Do you know that I shall deal with 
you as you do not expect?" 

"No," replied Rezanov, "I do not know; maybe you think of keep- 
ing me too on the forecastle, like Kurliandtsev? The sailors will not 
obey you, and I tell you that if you as much as touch me, you will 
be deprived of your ranks. You have forgotten the law and respect, 
to which my rank alone already obligates you." 

Thus having spoken, Rezanov went to his cabin. A little later 
Krusenstern stormed into his cabin shouting, "How did you dare to 
say that I behave like a child, do you know what the quarter-deck is? 
You will see what I shall do with you." 

Alarmed by Krusenstern's vehemence, Rezanov called Fosse, 
Titular Councilor Brykin, and the Academician Kurliandtsev to his 
side, ordering them to remain in his cabin and to protect him from 
the further insolences that seemed in the offing. Krusenstern, mean- 
while, visited the other vessel and returned shouting, "Will I teach 
him!" Soon Lisianskii, the Commander of the Neva, came aboard 
the Nadezhda accompanied by Ensign Berg, called together the crew 
and proclaimed that Rezanov was an impostor. The insults that 
flowed from the mouths of the crew overwhelmed the envoy. Weak- 
ened already by illness, he fainted away. Undaunted the naval of- 
ficers decided to drag him before a courtmartial on the quarter-deck, 
and Lieutenant Romberg came to Rezanov and informed him that 
the officers of both vessels were waiting for him on the quarter-deck. 
Lying exhausted and barely conscious Rezanov refused to go with 
Romberg. Krusenstern stormed into his cabin again and demanded 
at the top of his voice that Rezanov read the instructions, asserting 
that both vessels were uninformed about the command of the ex- 
pedition and that he did not know what to do. Gathering his strength, 
Rezanov decided to go on deck with the imperial instructions to put 
an end to the shameless behavior of the officers*. But the imperial re- 
script and orders, which conferred upon him the command of the 
expedition, failed to produce the desired effect. When he finished 



reading them, there was laughter and shouting: "Who signed them?" 
Rezanov replied proudly, "Your Emperor Alexander," but the officers 
remained dissatisfied and asked who had written them. "I do not 
know," replied Rezanov. "That's just it," shouted Lisianskii, "we 
want to know who wrote them, as for signing, we know that he will 
sign anything." And the other ofheers, with the exception of Lieuten- 
ant Golovachev, went up to the flabbergasted envoy and told him 
to go away with his ukases, that they had no commander other than 
Krusenstern. And Lieutenant Ratmanov cursed him most obscenely 
and demanded that he be locked up in his cabin. Humiliated, at the 
end of his strength, Rezanov sought refuge in his cabin and did not 
step out again, until the ship reached Petropavlovsk, even though he 
suffered greatly from the lack of fresh air in the tropical heat. As a 
result of all this Rezanov's strength was completely undermined and 
he suffered a nervous breakdown. Not once, however, did the ship's 
doctor call on him, though everyone on the vessel knew that he was 

ill. 31 

From the Sandwich Islands the paths of the vessels diverged. The 
Neva sailed directly to the Russian colonies, while the Nadezhda 
headed for Kamchatka, after a futile attempt at locating the legendary 
gold and silver islands, 32 arriving in Petropavlovsk Harbor on July 
28, 1804. Rezanov decided not to continue the voyage to Japan in 
view of the episode at sea. He went ashore and sent a letter to the 
nearest representative of administrative authority on Kamchatka, 
Major General Koshelev, the Commandant of Nizhne-Kamchatsk, 
informing him that he could not undertake the voyage to Japan be- 
cause of the mutiny of his officers and wished, therefore, to surrender 
the expedition to him. In August, Koshelev arrived with a military 
detachment and on Rezanov's request began a week-long investiga- 
tion. With his career endangered, Krusenstern warded off the con- 
sequences of his mutinous conduct by a public apology and Rezanov 
agreed to continue with his embassy to Japan. 33 

31 Voenskii (Oct.), 212-213; Novakovskii, 79-81. 

32 Krusenstern calculated that these islands lay probably in the vicinity of latitude 
96 N • there he began his search but soon discontinued it because of bad weather He 
notes in his diary that Japanese maps, which he examined, showed two uninhabited 
islands, surrounded by underwater rocks to the east of Edo. Maps of the Genroku 
period (1688-1704) do include such islands. Thus mistakes on Japanese maps as well 
as Japanese accounts of the Bonin (Ogasawara) Islands may well have given support if 
not birth to stories about the gold and silver islands. (Novakovskii, 81-82.) 

33 Voenskii (Oct.), 214; Novakovskii, 83. 



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Preparations were made for the voyage to Japan and on Septem- 
ber 19, after a stay of less than two months, the Nadezhda quitted 
Kamchatka. At first the weather was favorable but on the 23rd a 
heavy storm overtook the vessel and for four days tossed it about. 
When the storm let up on September 27, the Nadezhda was at latitude 
39°57' N., and Krusenstern took time to discover that the various 
islands indicated in these waters on the maps of La Perouse and 
early French and Spanish maps did not exist. On October 10, Japan — 
Shikoku Island — was sighted at last. 34 The day before had been the 
anniversary of the coronation of Alexander I, and as the vessels 
entered the waters of Japan, Rezanov had commemorated the occa- 
sion with the following speech: 


In our voyage round the world we are at length arrived in the waters 
of Japan. Love of country, dignity of soul, defiance of danger, perse- 
verance, subordination, mutual esteem, gentleness and forbearance one 
toward another — these are the characteristics that distinguish the Russian 
seaman, these are the virtues by which the Russians in general are dis- 

You, officers of the Navy, approved conductors of the Hope [Nadezhda], 
well have you deserved the gratitude of your fellow citizens! You have 
already acquired a degree of renown of which even jealousy can never 
deprive you. 

You, cavaliers, and associates in the embassy, my worthy companions 
and assistants, still remains to us the accomplishment of the brilliant 
objects on which we are sent, the opening to our country new sources of 
wealth and knowledge. And you, sailors, cherished children of the sea 
service, rejoice! The happy end of your diligent labors is almost attained. 

Long have our hearts and minds been united in serving with zeal the 
excellent Monarch by whom we are deputed to these parts of the world; 
and may gratitude toward the beloved ruler still strengthen and animate 
us in the performance of our arduous task! The present is a solemn day 
to all the sons of Russia, but to none so solemn as to us, who are enter- 
ing the Japanese dominions, who are the first to see the glorious Russian 
flag wave in the harbor of Nagasaki. 

As representative of our great Emperor, and as the witness of your 
admirable performance of duty, it was no less flattering to me to share 
your toils and dangers than it is gratifying solemnly to assure you of the 
gratitude which awaits all of you in our dear native country. 

34 According to Novakovskii (84) at 32°38'35" lat. N. at a distance of fifty-six miles; 
according to Langsdorff at 32°38'3o" (Bemerkungen auf einer Reise um die Welt in 
den Jahren 1803 bis 1807, 1, 188) or at 32°38'33" (Voyages, 212) lat. N. at a distance of 
thirty-six miles. 



I solemnize this festival of Alexander the First's coronation in the 
waters of Japan, and I make it forever memorable to you in this first 
reward of your services. You have here the likeness of our beloved Em- 
peror: wear it as your greatest ornament, as a testimony of the zeal and 
diligence in his service, through which it has been acquired. Recollect 
always in beholding it, that this imposes upon you still more strongly 
the obligation of continuing true to those duties of which your fore- 
fathers were so proud, and by which they arrived at the highest pinnacle 
of fame. You will learn sincerely to bless the times in which the merits 
of the least among his subjects, even in the remotest regions of the world, 
do not pass unrewarded from the throne itself. 35 

Rezanov decorated each member of the crew with a special coro- 
nation medal. At a splendid dinner the health of the Russian Em- 
peror was toasted with wine as the thunder of Russian cannon re- 
sounded in the waters of Japan. 36 

On October 1 1 , land was sighted for the second time but fog, 
rain, and wind curtained the hazards of the unknown shores and 
the vessel had to put out to open sea again. Time and again kamikaze 
or "divine winds" had protected Japan from foreign conquest. Two 
storms, one after the other, now descended on the Russians and 
threatened to whirl them to the bottom of the ocean. In the words 
of one of the voyagers: 

. . . the raging of the elements was frightful beyond expression: all nature 
appeared in commotion and uproar. . . . Neither officers or crew had 
any respite from their labors: their utmost activity was necessary to steer 
the ship clear of the repeated shocks it received. Large chests of arms 
floated upon the deck: there was no end of the jostling and the noise: 
the speaking-trumpet could hardly be heard at the distance of three 
steps, and people were every where running backwards and forwards with 
lanterns. The sea, rising into mountains, seemed united with the heavens. 
It was impossible to trace the boundaries between the air, the clouds, 
and the water. One monstrous wave after another filled the ship, and 
seemed sinking it into the abyss: all the household utensils lay about 
scattered and broken: the guns at the forecastle touched the water ... a 
monstrous wave dashed directly against the hinder part of the vessel, 
tore the gallery away from the left side, broke through the double par- 
tition into the captain's cabin, and inundated it so completely, that the 
water was three feet deep. Expensive books, chairs, tables, maps, presents 

35 Langsdorff , Voyages, 211-212; Langsdorff, Bemerkungen, 1, 186-187. The English 
edition differs slightly in wording from the German one. Its meaning is true, however, 
and I have followed the standard English edition unless the difference was significant 
enough to demand change. A somewhat smoother but less complete version of Rezanov's 
speech may be found in Gertrude Atherton, "Nikolai Petrovich Rezanov," 651-652. 

36 Langsdorff, Voyages, 211-212; Atherton, 651-652. 



designed for Japan, mathematical instruments, clothes, swam all together 
about the cabin, and seemed to give a foretaste of what was soon to 
follow. It is true, that the sailors were exhorted to take courage, and en- 
deavour to stop the leak; but there was no one 1 believe who did not 
think within himself at the time, "It is, however, in vainl — We are not- 
withstanding lost!" 37 

But the storm let up and by morning the sun came out again. 
Damage to vessel, personal possessions, and gifts was extensive, but 
not as great as feared. By the evening of October 14, Japan was 
within sight again and on October 15, the Nadezhda sailed along- 
side Kyushu, whose prominent cape at latitude 32 14' 15" N. and 
longitude 128 18' 30" W. was named by Krusenstern in honor of 
Chirikov, who had visited Japan about two generations earlier. On 
October 16, the Nadezhda sailed through the Straits of Van Diemen 
(Osumi Kaikyo), past Satsuma and Osumi provinces, so close to 
shore that the houses and fields could be clearly distinguished. On 
October 18, she reached a wide bay, but turned back southward be- 
cause of cliffs and a calm. Rounding Mageshima Island 38 the vessel 
resumed a northward course, sighting the Goto Islands on the 19th. 
On October 20, the Nadezhda returned to the shores of Kyushu and 
approached its destination: Nagasaki Harbor. 

At dawn a Japanese fishing boat was noticed and the castaways 
hailed their countrymen and persuaded them to come aboard. From 
the fishermen, who ventured onto the Russian vessel and without 
much urging accepted brandy, they learned that news of their arrival 
at the shores of Japan had been flashed to Nagasaki four days earlier 
by signal fires at night, and that their approach to the harbor itself 
had been communicated by a hilltop observation post. From the 
fishermen Krusenstern also learned the best route for entering the 
harbor and by about one o'clock the Nadezhda was at its entrance. 
Soon a little boat pulled up and two Japanese officials with frank 
and open countenances met the Russians with apparent "great friend- 
ship and politeness." They came aboard, after first questioning the 
castaways in detail who the foreigners were, from where and why 
they had come, with how many guns the ship was armed, whether 
the embassy was destined solely for Japan and so forth. Turning 

3" Langsdorff, Voyages, 215. 

38 Krusenstern speaks of Meakshima Island ("Meac-sima" in the German version). By 
name and position this seems to he Mageshima Island. Philipp Franz von Siebold and 
other scholars deem Meakushima (Meakshima) to have been one of the islands of the 
Koshiki Archipelago. (Hani Gore, Kuruzenshuterun Nihon kiko, 1, 155-156 note 31.) 




Rezanov at Nagasaki 

to the Russians they asked to see the permit, and, copying it, in- 
quired why the Russians had waited for twelve years to make use of 
it, commenting that for years the Japanese had been on the look-out 
for a Russian vessel, and that one of the castaways returned by Lax- 
man was still living in Nagasaki to serve as Russian language in- 
terpreter. To make sure that these were indeed Russians who had 
now arrived, the officials asked at their departure for a billet written 
in Russian as proof. 

In the afternoon, as the Nadezhda penetrated deeper into Nagasaki 
bay, two other officials arrived to point out the anchorage assigned 
the vessel by the governor of Nagasaki, and at about six p.m. the 
Nadezhda cast anchor off Mt. Papenberg in thirty-three fathoms. 
Two officials had stayed aboard until this time, and left only after 
the Russians had certified in writing that they had shown them the 
anchoring-place. "When we represented to them that we could only 
write in the Russian language," recorded Langsdorff, "they assured 
us, as before, that there were people in Nagasaki who understood 
that language very well. It appeared, however, subsequently, either 



that the idea of some of the Japanese brought here by Lieutenant 
Laxman being still alive in Nagasaki was merely presumed on their 
part, or else that these men were designedly kept out of our way 
during our stay there." 39 

Soon more officials came to question the Russians, as Japanese 
guard boats with melon-like lanterns took up positions near the 
vessel, and at abotit ten p.m. a senior official with a large retinue 
arrived on most colorfully illuminated boats. Past a Russian guard 
of honor, .to the beat of drums, the dignitary and his followers were 
ushered into Rezanov's cabin, where all the cavaliers of the embassy 
and the ship's officers had been assembled. Without hesitation the 
leading Japanese officials and the secretary seated themselves on the 
sofa, their legs crossed Japanese fashion, flanked by several Japanese 
servants with smoking utensils and burning lanterns. Through the 
interpreters who knelt in a semi-circle they plied the Russians with 
questions. They wanted to see the original permit and were par- 
ticularly interested to ascertain by what route the Russians had 

come by way of the Korean Strait or the eastern coast of Japan — 

and in how many days they had negotiated the voyage. Anxious not 
to have Europeans frequent the Korean Strait, they were visibly 
pleased that the Russians had sailed along the eastern shore of Japan 
instead. 40 

The anchorage which the governor had assigned the Nadezhda 
was some four miles from the nearest land and was threateningly 
exposed in case of storm. Rezanov therefore requested a more pro- 
tected anchoring place. The officials agreed to let the Russians enter 
the inner part of the bay, but on condition that they surrender in 
trust, until the time of their departure, all their weapons and am- 
munition. After some hesitation, Rezanov agreed to surrender fire- 
arms and powder, but insisted that officers and crew be permitted to 
retain their sidearms. At the same time he pleaded for a speedy 
audience with the governor. Then to his surprise, the Japanese 
asked whether Hendrik Doeff, the chief of the Dutch factory, and 
some of his subordinates might not come aboard. Rezanov agreed, 
and Doeff, who had all this time— for over an hour— waited in one 
of the boats, was called aboard. 41 As he entered the cabin, accom- 

39 Langsdorff, Voyages, 215-222; Novakovskii, 85. 

40 Ivan Fedorovich Kruzenshtern, Puteshestvie vokrug sveta v 1803, 4, 5 i 1806 godakh, 
1, 317; Langsdorff, Voyages, 224-225. 

41 Kruzenshtern, 1, 318; according to Langsdorff, Voyages (231-232), the Dutch visit 
took place on the following day. 



panied by his secretary, by the Dutch captains Musquetier and Bell- 
mar, and by the traveler Baron von Pabst, he was about to salute 
Rezanov, when the Japanese interpreters grabbed him by the arm 
and had him salute the Japanese officials first. On the command 
"Myn Heer Oberhoeft! Complement bevor de opper Banios!" Doeff 
and his companions had to bow low before the chief official and thus 
remain for several minutes before requesting permission to straighten 
up again with the words "kan ik wederom opstaan?" The Japanese 
chief official for his part did not deign to return the greeting. Only 
after respect had similarly been paid to the other Japanese officials 
could the Dutch address themselves to the Russians. The Dutch of- 
fered the Russians their services, but the latter preferred to act on 
their own. Had they wished to do otherwise, it probably would 
not have mattered, for the Japanese were not to permit further visits 
between the Dutch and the Russians. Meanwhile the Russians were 
outraged at the degrading spectacle that had unfolded before their 
eyes and were determined never to submit to similar humiliation. 42 
They had heard, of course, of Japanese mistrust and of the many 
precautionary measures, which the Japanese took in their dealings 
with foreigners, but Rezanov was the imperial envoy of a powerful 
neighboring country and the Russians expected more respect and 
freedom of movement than that granted to other aliens. 

The assertion of the officials that the arrival of the Russians had 
long been expected seemed to justify the optimism with which 
Rezanov had outlined for himself the objectives to be pursued in 
the event of negotiations in the Japanese capital. He planned to 
request permission for a large number of Russian vessels to frequent 
a harbor in northern Japan, and there obtain the lease of a place 
for the construction of warehouses. Promising a steady Russian de- 
mand for copper, camphor, and rice, 43 he would explain the nature 
of Russian cargoes, get prices and samples of local products, and 
seek to fix a moderate price for rice and a bearable customs duty. 
Trade procedures were to be set down in writing, but merchants, 
though they would obey Japanese laws, were to be free to import 
and export goods of their choice and to take back whatever they 
could not sell profitably. In the northern harbor Russian vessels 

42 Kruzenshtern, i, 312, 318; Langsdorff, Voyages, 231-233; Umemori, 10. 

43 The text here translated reads psheno which is millet. It appears likely, however, 
that psheno is used in this case as an abbreviation of sarachinskoe psheno or rice. 



were not to be detained at all upon arrival, and were to be supplied, 
like vessels wintering there, with all the necessary food at a lair price. 
Elsewhere vessels in distress should be accorded due help. Should trade 
with Japan prove unprofitable for the Russians, they should be per- 
mitted to withdraw without reflection on Russian friendship "which 
the Sovereign deigns to promise always and forever." As in the case 
of Laxman, Rezanov ordered Krusenstern to see to it that no outward 
sign of Christian worship be displayed. 44 

The following clay, on October 21, the first secretary of the gov- 
ernor and several other officials arrived on flag-bedecked boats to 
welcome the Russians in the name of the Japanese government and 
to collect their powder and weapons, including sidearms. On Rus- 
sian insistence Rezanov and his officers were allowed to retain their 
swords, as an essential part of the uniform, but no immediate de- 
cision could be reached concerning the Russian demand that a 
seven-man honor guard of the envoy also be permitted to retain its 
weapons, the Japanese objecting that not even the highest officials 
of their own country were allowed to carry exposed firearms. As the 
Russians surrendered the bulk of their weapons the officials led their 
vessel closer to shore. At midnight the Nadezhda weighed anchor 
and was towed to the western side of Mt. Papenberg by over sixty 
Japanese boats maintaining the most astonishing order of forma- 
tion. The eastern side of Mt. Papenberg was more protected, but 
the Japanese would not permit the Nadezhda to proceed there as 
long as five Chinese junks occupied the anchorage. When the Chinese 
left a week later, one hundred Japanese boats towed the vessel to 
the eastern anchorage. But they refused to pull the Nadezhda into 
the inner harbor for repairs, as the Russians requested, not on the 
customary pretext that no permission had been received for this 
from Edo, but because allegedly a warship with such a distinguished 
personage as Rezanov could not stand side by side with mere Dutch 
merchantmen. 45 On the twenty-first the Japanese officials relieved 
the Russians of the original Nagasaki Permit, but, though they asked 
for the imperial letter as well, they were shown only a copy of it. 
The Japanese claimed that the handwriting and language used was 
one that they could not understand and that the governor himself 
must examine it. Rezanov told them that the letter expressed his 
Emperor's wish to enter into relations of friendship and trade with 

44Polonskii, 552-554. « Kruzenshtern, 1, 323-327; Langsdorff, Voyages, 227-231. 



the Japanese and that he was fully empowered to negotiate an ap- 
propriate agreement. But he refused to give them even a copy of 
the letter, demanding again to see the governor so that he could 
explain the contents in person. The following day, on October 22, 
Japanese officials again inquired about the contents of the imperial 
letter and the Russians went over the text slowly, reading and re- 
peating each point several times to make sure that the Japanese 
understood it. The letter was as follows: 

By the Grace of God, His Tenjin-Kubo Majesty, the Autocratic Poten- 
tate of the extensive Japanese Empire, Most Excellent Emperor and 
Sovereign: His Majesty the Emperor Autocrat of all of Russia wishes 
perfect health, long life and every felicity in reign. Having taken over the 
governing of the Empire, the boundaries of which My ancestors Peter I 
and Catherine II extended, and seeing Holland, France, England, Italy, 
Spain and the German land suffering from mutual war, I made it my duty 
to incline them by friendly insistence to universal peace. Supposing the 
felicity of my rule to be in tranquility and peace, I direct all My solici- 
tude to the acquisition of the friendly disposition of all terrestrial powers 
in general, the rather of My neighbors. Cognizant of the dignity of the 
Japanese Empire, the late Empress Catherine the Great as a token of 
friendship in 1791 returned to the fatherland those Japanese who by 
mishap had suffered shipwreck and were cast by fate to the shores of 
My Empire and the Russian subjects then sent, having been received 
amicably, obtained from the Japanese Government a paper, by which 
permission was given to one vessel to come to Nagasaki harbor freely. 

Feeling also until now such favorable disposition of Your Tenjin-Kubo 
Majesty and at the same time what advantages might be derived from 
mutual intercourse, and furthermore desiring to know the governmental 
structure of other parts of the world as well, I decided to send to Japan 
to return to your Majesty several Japanese, who hitherto, not of their 
own volition, by unfortunate lot, escaping death from shipwreck saved 
their life in my domains, and to this end, having chosen as worthy loyal 
subject, the Actual Chamberlain of My Court, Nikolai Rezanov, so that 
with due respect he could approach to Your Autocratic Person, I desire 
that he transmit to Your Tenjin-Kubo Majesty this letter according to 
the proper ceremonial with sincere respect, that he act in everything in 
such a way that it be pleasing to You too, and set forth to Your Tenjin- 
Kubo Majesty how much I try to continue and strengthen on unshaken 
principles the tie of My friendly disposition to You and to carry out all 
that, which only will be demanded from Your side, as a token of apprecia- 
tion for having accepted My proposals, which consist in that Your Tenjin- 
Kubo Majesty permit merchant people, especially inhabitants of the 
Kadiak, Aleutian and Kuril islands, as [islands] neighboring unto You, 
to come not only to Nagasaki harbor and not only one vessel, but also 



many and to other harbors with those exceptions, which will be favorable 
to You. I lor my part open all limits of my Empire to the friendly reception 
of Your loyal subjects. On what bases to confirm mutual trade between 
Our subjects; and where My trading subjects should land in Your ports — 
I instructed My Envoy, the above-mentioned Actual Chamberlain Rcza- 
nov, to negotiate with a Minister of Your Tenjin-Kubo Majesty, as well 
as the matter, in what way I should in the future deliver to You Your 
subjects, if by unfortunate lot they are shipwrecked and save their life 
on the shore of My Empire. I send with this to Your Tenjin-Kubo Majesty 
as gifts a clock, made in the shape of a mechanical elephant, mirrors, 
fox fur, vases of fossil ivory, muskets, pistols, and manufactures of steel 
and glass. All things have been made in My manufactories. Although they 
do not cost much, I desire, that they only please You and that in the 
confines of My Empire there be found something that You wish. 

In St. Petersburg, June 30, 1803, in the third year of My reign. 
[Signed] Aleksandr. [Countersigned] Count Alcksandr Vorontsov. 10 

Having obliged the Japanese by explaining to them the meaning of 
the imperial letter, the Russians complained to them that the Japa- 
nese castaways had refused to perform any work, since arriving at 
the shores of their homeland. The officials had the castaways brought 
before them and gave them a thorough tongue-lashing for thus casting 
dishonor on Japan by their ingratitude. Impressed by this action of 
the officials and by their general politeness, Rezanov, who the day 
before had refused to surrender to them a copy of the imperial letter, 
now voluntarily gave them one for the governor. "This appeared to 
give inexpressible pleasure: the utmost satisfaction was visible in the 
features of everyone," noted Langsdorff, "and what before was cere- 
mony, seemed now converted into the confidence of friendship.'"The 
Japanese showed their interest in trade with Russia by posing a great 
many questions: "What productions Russia could and would bring 
to Japan as objects of trade? Whether Russia could furnish sugar, rye, 
skins, medicines, and many other articles? How many ships she 

46Voenskii, 136-138; Novakovskii, 90-92. Tokutomi Iichiro cites a Japanese version of 
the text, constructed by the Japanese interpreters from a Dutch translation of the 
Russian original and oral explanations. It is remarkably faithful in meaning, differing 
primarily in tone, the Russian gifts, for example, being designated as "tribute." Men- 
tioning the permit received by Laxman, the Japanese version states: "Our gratitude 
knows no bounds. To express our thanks [for the permit and Japanese hospitality] we 
are sending, therefore, an ambassador to the Edo government. He humbly requests an 
audience under the knee of the king of Great Japan in connection with our great desire 
to gain your future good will and to open the way for trade. We have specially selected 
for this purpose our trusted subject the Chamberlain Nikolai Rezanov. Since he is com- 
pletely unacquainted with the laws of your country we would appreciate it if you would 
expound them to him." (Tokutomi, xxv, 25, 192-195-) 



could and would send annually to Japan? Whether four, five, or even 
more? Whence the ships would come, whether from Kamchatka or 
from Europe? How long the ships would be in coming? What was the 
best time of year for coming from Japan to Kamchatka?" The Japa- 
nese wanted to know the relative location of Kamchatka and Japan 
and posed other geographical questions, expressing surprise at the 
information that Russia had possessions in America. They examined 
Russian maps, and displayed considerable geographical knowledge. 
The Japanese were no less interested in the Russian language and 
asked the Russian equivalents for such common words as "good," 
"bad," and "good morning" and for the names of various objects 
and proceeded to interpolate them in their own speech. All this 
amazed the Europeans. As Langsdorff observed: "The inquisitive- 
ness, the readiness at learning, and the memory of these people, sur- 
prised us exceedingly." The interpreters later asked the Russians for 
instruction in their language, offering in turn to teach the Russians 
Japanese. This was most unusual, for the Dutch were specifically 
forbidden to study Japanese. 

On October 24, two days after the copy of the imperial letter had 
been sent to the governor it was returned to the Russians with the 
request that it be translated into Dutch, on the ground that its text, 
though written in Japanese script, was not understandable — not 
necessarily an empty pretext, because it had been worded by one of 
the castaway fishermen at Irkutsk. The Russians once again tried 
to explain the letter sentence by sentence, but with difficulty, for as 
Langsdorff noted, "not one among our whole party could properly 
be said to understand the Dutch language." Satisfactory communica- 
tion remained most difficult, and misunderstandings were numerous. 
Nevertheless, the meaning of the letter became increasingly clearer, 
as did the rank and dignity of the envoy, who in the Japanese text 
had appeared to be but a small prince. The Japanese expressed par- 
ticular surprise that the Russian Emperor should have written the 
letter himself, a thing never done by their sovereign. That same 
meeting the castaways, arrayed in Russian clothing of silk, were pre- 
sented to the senior officials. 47 

On October 27, the senior official arrived again, but was received 
rather coldly by Rezanov who, tired of the selfsame questions, stated 
that he did not feel well. The Japanese communicated that a new 
governor had arrived in Nagasaki and that both he and his incum- 

Langsdorff, Voyages, 236-241. 



bent colleague promised that Rezanov would soon be permitted to 
enter the harbor proper, adorning the irksome delay with the flatter- 
ing contention that it was the exaltedness of Rezanov's position that 
necessitated elaborate preparations for his reception and the await- 
ing of special instructions from the court; had he been such an 
insignificant personage as Lieutenant Laxman, he would have been 
admitted into the harbor long ago. Yet Rezanov's hall-feigned indis- 
position hastened a decision. That same evening the governors ex- 
pressed their concern about Rezanov's health and promised that he 
would be moved to a better anchorage the following day. On the 
morning of the 28th, Japanese oflicials again inquired after Rezanov's 
health and offered the help of a Japanese doctor. Then, as mentioned 
earlier, the Nadezhda was towed from the western to the eastern side 
of Mt. Papenberg by a hundred little boats. The officials remained 
aboard the vessel during the operation, eagerly pursuing their study 
of geography. 

At the western anchorage many Japanese, predominantly women, 
had rowed up to the cordon of guard boats — a guard of honor as the 
Japanese claimed — to have a look at the foreigners. Now that the 
vessel was moved eastward, closer to Nagasaki, more boats milled 
about the Nadezhda. "The number of people thus attracted to stare 
at us were no less entertaining to us than we to them," wrote Langs- 
dorff. "Sometimes we saw a boat filled with children, from ten to 
fourteen years old, so that it seemed as if a whole school had been 
brought out to be treated with a sight of the Russians. In others 
were women, who, to judge by the richness of their clothing, must 
have been of high rank. There were mothers with infants at the 
breast, and young girls with stringed instruments; in some of the 
boats the people had telescopes, which were handed from one to 
the other; in short, old and young, married and unmarried, all came 
to gratify their curiosity." And on shore groups of Japanese gathered, 
ate picnics, and gazed at the Russians. 48 

On November 2, the Russians were informed that they would be 
supplied, free of charge, with provisions, but must not attempt to 
purchase anything else. At the same time they were told not to be 
alarmed at the sound of cannon fire the next day, as the Dutch ships 
expected to leave their anchorage and, as was their custom, would 
salute the imperial fortress. The Russians were not to send a boat 

48 Ibid., 242-249. 



to one of the Dutch vessels, nor elsewhere for that matter. When the 
Dutch vessels duly departed from Deshima the following day, they 
saluted with a hundred and fifty guns each. 49 Rezanov witnessed this 
with displeasure and the next day, on November 4, protested to the 
Japanese that if mere Dutch merchantmen were allowed thus to fire 
gun salutes and to discharge a cannon morning and evening, it was 
an insult to the Russian flag that his warship had been denied this 
as contrary to the laws of Japan. At the same time, notwithstanding 
the recent prohibition, he expressed the desire to meet the com- 
manders of the Dutch vessels, which though they had left Deshima 
had not yet quitted the harbor, and through them to send word to 
Russia of his safe arrival in Japan. He thanked the Japanese for their 
generosity in providing him with provisions free of cost, but said he 
would rather purchase them, particularly as delivery had been irregu- 
lar. He waxed impatient with Japanese procrastination and voiced 
himself "exceedingly hurt" at being neglected. He charged that he 
had not been shown the friendship "which his Imperial Russian 
Majesty, whose representative he was, had a right to expect from the 
Japanese" and that neither he nor any of his countrymen would have 
come had they anticipated such treatment. He demanded a place on 

land even an uninhabited island — where he could strengthen his 

failing health by exercise, and also a house on shore, where the 
presents for the Japanese sovereign could be laid out, and a place 
for the repair of the vessel. 50 

The Japanese consented to let the Russians dispatch two unsealed 
letters through the Dutch. When Rezanov objected that it would be 
improper for him to send an unsealed dispatch to his Emperor, it 
was agreed eventually that the letters be shown to the Governor of 
Nagasaki, then returned by one of the officials to be sealed by Rezanov 
in his presence, and once again taken to the governor and by him 
transmitted to the Dutch. Thus the Russians sent home word of 
their whereabouts. 51 As to the place on shore, the Japanese reiterated 
that they could not let any foreigners land without permission from 
the government, but then modified their stand and agreed to make 

40 The Japanese did not return the salute. From this the Russians concluded that 
they really had no cannon. Yet as the Japanese were not in the habit of acknowledging 
Dutch bows, it is likely that they simply did not deign to return other forms of Dutch 
salutation either. 

so Langsdorff, Voyages, 249-253. 

si The Russians dispatched only one letter from Nagasaki. Several German publica- 
tions carried other letters purporting to have been sent by them, but these were fic- 



mi exception in the ease of Rezanov, because of his illness, liy No- 
vember 10, a fenced-in "walk" was readied at Kibachi, on a large 
island. As Langsdorif described it, "it was a walk not more than twice 
the length of our ship, inclosed with a palisade of bamboo canes: 
every plant and blade of grass was torn away; the soil was perfectly 
levelled, and it was strewn over with sand. A small summer-house, 
open in front, was to serve as our shelter in case of rain. . . ," 62 Rezanov 
could go there whenever he pleased on condition that he give advance 
notice, hoisting a red flag as signal to the Japanese officer of the guard, 
and come with no more than nine oilicers, never taking ashore any 
common sailors and never staying over-night. 

On November 20, the Dutch vessels departed and the following 
day the Nadezhda was towed to the anchorage they had vacated, 
directly in front of a Japanese guard post, some two miles from 
Nagasaki, and with a clear view of the city. Now repairs could be 
begun and masts, beams, and yards were taken to the walk at Kibachi. 
The Japanese suggested that Rezanov move aboard a Chinese junk, 
but when the Russians found the cabin unsuitable, they suggested 
that Rezanov might have a place at the very end of the city, until 
permission for a more satisfactory place was obtained from Edo. But 
though Rezanov obliged the governor by putting into writing his 
demand for a place on shore to repair damages incurred by the vessel 
in a storm and to recover from ill health, the Japanese continued to 
procrastinate. This irritated the Russians, and Rezanov gave vent to 
his feelings. He stated that much time had been lost already and that 
only four months remained before the vessel would have to return, 
to Kamchatka. He feared that if they delayed any further, he would 
not have time to proceed to Edo and thus found it necessary to 
demand an immediate decision. For good measure he added the 
back-handed threat that, if he did not return to Europe by July, it 
would be assumed that some mishap had occurred, and other Russian 
vessels would arrive at the shores of Japan in search of him. 

On December 29, at long last, Rezanov was permitted to move 
ashore. With his guard of honor and entourage he boarded the 
beautiful, large barge of Prince Hizen 53 (in preference to one of his 
own boats) and seated himself on a Russian chair with his credentials 
laid out before him on a table, while the vessel, flying the colors both 
of Prince Hizen and of the Russian Empire, was festively towed to 

52 Langsdorff, Voyages, 257-259. 

53 Variously called in Western sources Prince Fisi and Prince Fizen. 



shore without making use of its many oars. At Megasaki a wooden 
house of nine apartments had been prepared, and Rezanov, Fride- 
ritsii, Fosse, Captain Fedorov, Lieutenant Koshelev, Mr. Shemelin 
(commissioner of the Company), Langsdorff, the guard of honor, and 
the four Japanese castaways took up their abode on land, the other 
officers and members of the crew, remaining on the Nadezhda. The 
new place — the "Russian Deshima" as Krusenstern dubbed it — was 
a quadrangular peninsula, enveloped by water on three sides. Along 
three sides of the fenced-in court, which extended some fifty paces 
in length and forty in breadth, the dwelling of the envoy and two 
magazines had been arranged. The fourth side, facing the sea, was 
bounded by a high double palisade of bamboo. The whole enclosure 
had only two doors: one leading to a small fenced-in place, the other 
to the water; both were provided with strong double locks and were 
locked and bolted every night. Thus in effect the Russians were 
prisoners of the Japanese or, as the Japanese liked to refer to the 
Dutch on Deshima, their hostages. On January 3, 1805, Rezanov 
was informed that permission had been received for the vessels to 
enter Nagasaki and the following day, on January 4, the Nadezhda 
was towed into the harbor proper, about a quarter of a mile from 
the landing place between Deshima and Megasaki. Yet free inter- 
course between the men aboard ship and their comrades on land 
was not permitted. The doors remained locked, until the Russians 
signaled with a red flasr their intention to visit or leave shore. Every 
evening those who remained on land had to pass in review before a 
Japanese officer to make sure that only the number stipulated slept 
at Megasaki. Eventually the door leading to the small fenced-in place 
was left open and, as the Russians strolled there, Japanese men, 
women, and children, on the other side of the fence, peered at them 
as at animals in the zoo. On New Year's Eve the Russians could hear 
the Dutch celebrating gaily, while they had to pass the night, as 
Langsdorff phrased it "with our customary patience and philosophy, 
over a quiet glass of punch, to the daily music of locking up our 

On their arrival in Japan the Russians had found the Japanese 
friendly and courteous. Many brought fans to the Russians and asked 
them to inscribe them. At the walk first assigned to Rezanov the 
Japanese were always solicitous of his comfort. No sooner would he 
fail to come ashore then they would hasten aboard the vessel to in- 



quire in what way they could make the place more comfortable. And 
though they subjected them to the measures of precaution customar- 
ily applied to foreigners, they treated them not without confidence, 
for they explained to the Russians how their guns were fired, showed 
them maps of the neighboring countryside, and many objects of 
interest. Gradually intercourse became more limited and less inti- 
mate, not so much due to any change in attitude on the part of the 
Japanese at large, as by the orders of higher officials/' 4 At the place 
near Megasaki the Russians were completely segregated from all but 
a limited number of officials, who came infrequently and then only 
on business. Except for repairing the vessel and preparing the gifts 
for the Japanese sovereign, the Russians had little with which to 
occupy themselves. Rezanov, a good linguist, with the aid of the cast- 
aways studied Japanese and even compiled a brief Russo-Japanese 
manual and dictionary containing some five thousand words, later 
published by the Academy of Sciences. But the scientists of the ex- 
pedition could not study the country except for the fish, which was 
sent aboard as food. 

On January 28, the monotony of unoccupied waiting was inter- 
rupted dramatically, when Tajuro, one of the castaways, suddenly 
plunged a razor into his mouth. Some said that he had been driven 
to it by his conscience: allegedly he had handed to the Japanese of- 
ficials a note in which he had vilified the Russians, portraying them 
as fanatics, who had mistreated the castaways, forcing some of them 
to adopt Christianity, and had claimed that the true purpose of the 
Russian Embassy was not to establish commercial relations, but to 
open the country to Christianity. Others believed that he had be- 
come exasperated at the delays. The Japanese who investigated the 
incident reported to the Shogunate that he had become mentally 
deranged as the result of acute homesickness. There is evidence 
that Tajuro had tried to commit suicide, not out of fear that he 
might not be repatriated, but on the contrary out of desperation 
that he would be repatriated. For, during the long delay, rumors 
reached the castaways that those who had been returned by Laxman 
had been put under arrest and that Kodayu still languished in jail, 
and the castaways asked Rezanov not to return them. Called to the 
scene by the shouts of the other castaways, Langsdorff wanted to 
stop Tajuro's bleeding, but the Japanese officials characteristically 

54 Langsdorff , Voyages, 258-264; Kruzenshtern, 1, 331-334- 



prevented him from lending a helping hand, since the governor had 
not yet been notified. Nor was Dr. Espenberg, who together with 
Krusenstern was hastily summoned ashore by Rezanov, permitted 
to assist the castaway. Fortunately the wound was not fatal and a 
Japanese physician, who arrived before long, managed to save Tajuro. 
Upon arrival in Japan, Rezanov had repeatedly refused to sur- 
render the castaways without an audience, now he requested the 
governors to take them, but the officials no longer dared to do so 
without specific permission from the capital. 55 

On February 8, Rezanov sent word to the governor that his patience 
and forbearance "had reached the highest point." But it was early 
March before he received a positive reaction in the announcement 
that a Japanese plenipotentiary had been dispatched from the cap- 
ital to meet with him. Welcome as this news was, it was dampened 
somewhat by the implication that negotiations in the capital were 
out, and, on March 24, Rezanov was specifically forbidden to go to 
Edo. He was told that the plenipotentiary would reach Nagasaki 
in ten or twelve days and that, upon the conclusion of negotiations, 
he must depart at once. On April 11, Superintendent Toyama Kage- 
michi, the plenipotentiary, arrived and three days later, on April 
14, the Russians were informed of this. On the 15th, interpreters 
came aboard to prescribe the ceremonial to be observed during the 
negotiations. The Japanese demanded that Rezanov greet the pleni- 
potentiary in Japanese fashion — with bent knees and bowed head. 
But this he refused to do, agreeing only to remove his shoes and 
ungird his sword before entering the conference hall, and there to 
sit on the matted floor without a chair. Finally on the morning of 
April 16, half a year after reaching Nagasaki Harbor, Rezanov and 
the cavaliers of the embassy once again boarded the barge of Prince 
Hizen and were ferried ashore. Ceremoniously received by several 
officials and a kneeling guard, the Russians were gathered into a 
train of Japanese officials and soldiers with Rezanov in a norimono, 
carried by eight bearers, followed on foot by Frideritsii, Fedorov, 
Koshelev, Langsdorff*, Fosse, and a sergeant with the imperial stand- 
ard. As the procession wound its way through the streets and squares 
of the city, the Russians were led, as if blindfolded, for buildings 
and people had been literally curtained from their view. Only here 
and there an inquisitive head, irresistibly propelled by curiosity, 

55 Ramming, Reisen, 61, Kruzenshtern, 1, 341; Langsdorff, Voyages, 254, 288; Voenskii 
(Oct.) 229; Novakovskii, 87-88. 



would pop through the drapes to stare at the foreigners. 66 
At the conference building, which the Russians entered in stock- 
ing feet, they were offered the customary Japanese pipes and tea. 
Then Rezanov, accompanied by Frideritsii and Koshelev, met with 
Toyama, Ciovernors Hida, Lord of Bungo, and Naruse, Lord of 
Inaba, and Takagi Sakuemon. The lust encounter was brief. The 
Japanese inquired why Rezanov had come, why a letter had been 
addressed to the Japanese sovereign in view of the fact that Laxman 
had been told already that this was contrary to Japanese custom and 
law, whether Laxman had reported this, and whether he was still 
alive. They stated that the permit given to Laxman provided lor 
the arrival of a commercial vessel for further negotiations concern- 
ing the establishment of commercial relations between Japan and 
Russia; it did not authorize the dispatching of an embassy. Again 
they asked why it had taken the Russians so long to make use of the 
permit. Aside from these questions, which Rezanov answered, as he 
had answered them before to minor officials, the first meeting was 
taken up primarily by the exchange of formal greetings. It was the 
second meeting which climaxed the expedition and in one day shat- 
tered the golden hopes which had sustained the Russians all these 
lonely months. It was a rainy day and Rezanov had succeeded in 
obtaining for his retinue, as well as for himself, the privilege of 
proceeding to the conference place by norimono. Almost immedi- 
ately upon his entrance, Rezanov was invited to meet with the Jap- 
anese dignitaries and, accompanied by Fosse and Fedorov, proceeded 
to the audience hall. Ceremoniously the Japanese read to the envoy 
the long-awaited reply of their government to the letter of the Rus- 
sian Emperor: 

Proclamation: 57 

In ancient times our country had not little relations with distant 
countries; but seeing their uselessness, forbade its merchants to go to 
foreign lands, and foreign vessels also are not easily permitted to come 
to our country. If, however, some vessel persists in coming, it will be 
driven away firmly. Only Chinese, Korean, Ryukyu, and Dutch ones can 
come; but these not for commercial benefits, but because they have been 
coming since long ago and for special reasons. Your country did not have 
relations with us since ancient times until now, like those countries. 

se Kojiruien, xxvm, 549; Kruzenshtern, 1, 343"345; Langsdorff, Voyages, 297-308; Nova- 

kovskii, 93-94. 

57 Moshiwatashi— proclamation; has the implication of an order or sentence rather 

than a letter. 



In former years a vessel of yours unexpectedly brought to Matsumae sur- 
vivors of ours and desired to trade. Now again you have come to Naga- 
saki in a friendly manner requesting the opening of trade. You have 
asked us about this matter already twice, and we recognize that you have 
a need in our country. It is impossible, however, as you request to negoti- 
ate concerning commercial relations. 

Already for a long time our country has no dealings with distant 
countries. We do not know neighborly friendship with foreign countries, 
nor do we have any ties with them, their characteristics and conditions 
being different. This is a hereditary law for the protection of our 
country's frontiers. How can our government change a hereditary law 
merely on account of your country? 

Propriety must be repaid with propriety. If we now accept gifts of 
your country and do not reciprocate, our country may be regarded as 
ignorant of propriety; if we do reciprocate, we must do likewise with 
other distant lands. Hence we consider it preferable to refuse. In the 
instance of commerce, though it may appear that adding things which 
your country has to those which our country lacks would be of mutual 
benefit, we have concluded upon detailed deliberation of this that in 
exchange for unvaluable foreign things we would lose useful Japanese 
goods. All things considered, it is not to the good of the country as a 
whole. Furthermore the light-minded people would cunningly compete 
for the goods, quarreling over prices, and interested only in profit, and 
thereby the manners and customs of the people would be spoiled. It 
being of harm in the sustaining of our subjects, we will not resort to it. 
Without commerce solely in fidelity to enter anew friendly relations is 
counter to our national prohibition, which cannot be relaxed. Thus it 
is our government's will not to open this place; do not come again in 
vain. You must sail home quickly. 58 

The reply of the Shogunate was supplemented by two notes from 
the governor of Nagasaki, briefer and less couched in diplomatic lan- 
guage. The first set forth the Japanese intent of the much mis- 
understood Nagasaki Permit: 

On the occasion of the earlier arrival in Matsumae it was announced 
that it was not allowed to trade and have relations and it was forbidden 
to bring papers written either in Russian or in Japanese and incompre- 
hensible to us, it being noted that reports cannot be made from Matsumae 
to the capital concerning foreign affairs; furthermore that it is forbidden 
to come to Matsumae with our people, saved on your shores, or with a 
request concerning a different matter, but one must come to Nagasaki, 

58 The reply, as given here, is based primarily on the Japanese text cited by Toku- 
tomi (xxv, 222-223) w i tn consideration of an almost identical, but in spots less clear, 
Russian version given by Polonskii (555-556). An admittedly abbreviated, somewhat 
toned-down version of the Japanese reply may be found in Langsdorff (Voyages, 311- 
312) and Novakovskii (95-96). 



where all foreign affairs arc examined, and it will be permitted or pro- 
hibited to trade. To treat of this matter one can only there, and lor this 
a pass was given, but now you have brought an imperial letter, and hence 
1 imagine that before you did not understand the Matsumae announce- 
ment because here the customs and language are peculiar. For this rea- 
son the injunction of our supreme council is proclaimed here again. — It 
has been ordered that firewood, water and provisions be given. Do not 
stop at anchor at the shores of Japan and depart as soon as possible from 
our shores. 50 

The third paper 60 was the same note over again, but phrased a 
little differently, whether inadvertently through the labors of an- 
other interpreter or on purpose to make certain that this time the 
Russians understood the full meaning of the injunction. The gover- 
nor reiterated that the shores of Japan contained many cliffs and 
that storms were most dangerous, that the Russians therefore must 
not linger upon departure from Nagasaki, but go out to sea at once. 
He added that in the future, should Japanese be cast on the shores 
of Russia and wish to return, they should be handed to the Dutch, 
who would then convoy them to Japan by way of Batavia. 

Rezanov was shocked. Less optimistic on the eve of the confer- 
ence than when he had first arrived in Japan, he had still managed 
to retain faith in the ultimate success of his mission, a faith nour- 
ished by constant Japanese references to the expected reply from the 
capital. He had not foreseen such an outright rejection, in fact it 
seemed to him that the Japanese interpreters were shocked also. For 
a moment he was dumbfounded, then, his face changing, he ex- 
ploded in anger: He was surprised at this Japanese insolence. Who 
could forbid his Emperor to write, his Emperor, who by doing so, 
had done greater honor to the Japanese sovereign than the latter 
could have expected? Both were emperors, but it was not to be de- 
cided here who was greater. Russia had no need of trade with Japan; 
it was a favor of the Russian Emperor toward Japan, resulting merely 
from the humanitarian desire to alleviate their needs. Surely they 
did not think of dealing with the Russians as with the Portuguese? 
He boasted to the officials that it would not be difficult for his Em- 
peror to teach Japan the rules, which respect to his person required 
and warned that Japan should not extend her possessions beyond 

59Tokutomi, xxv, 225-226; Novakovskii, 97; Polonskii, 556. There is a slight differ- 
ence in the wording given by these sources. I have drawn on all of them to present the 
most meaningful text. See also Okamoto, 2: 13-19, and Hokkaido-shi, 11, 454. 

60 See Polonskii, 556-557. 



the northern extremity of Matsumae Island. And as the interpreters 
translated his words, Rezanov made certain that they did not emascu- 
late his scorn, adding himself, here and there, in Japanese. But in 
fact the letter of the Shogunate was remarkable for its diplomatic 
tactfulness and logic, particularly if compared with contemporary 
Chinese replies. 01 To the Japanese, so accustomed to restraining their 
emotions, the outburst of Rezanov was at once awesome and em- 
barrassing, and Hida replied that the envoy had troubled himself 
exceedingly and that the meeting might perhaps be continued bet- 
ter another day. "With great pleasure!" Rezanov exclaimed and 
stamped out of the conference hall. 

Negotiations were not broken off, however. Rezanov had countered 
the Japanese refusal to accept the Russian gifts with the refusal to 
accept the gifts and provisions of their government. This, the Jap- 
anese argued, would be a serious insult, which the governor and his 
subordinates could erase only by committing suicide and painted so 
pathetic a picture of mass-disembowelment, that Rezanov (who could 
well use the supplies) was finally persuaded to accept the provisions 
and gifts. When Rezanov and the plenipotentiaries held their last 
meeting, on April 19, a friendly atmosphere prevailed again and 
Rezanov seemed to have forgotten the indignities against which, two 
days before, he had protested so vehemently. On April 21, the Jap- 
anese accepted the castaways and issued a receipt. On April 28, 
Rezanov was handed a Dutch translation of the Japanese reply to 
the Russian state paper. The same day he was informed that the 
boat, which had brought him to the site near Megasaki, was ready 
to take him back to his ship and that he would much oblige the 
governor, if he would go aboard the following day. Rezanov readily 
agreed and, on April 29, the Russians were returned their weapons 
and ammunition. Japanese officials visited Rezanov to bid him fare- 
well, expressing their regret that trade with Russia had failed to 
materialize, while other Japanese came to the guardhouse and, ask- 
ing the envoy to autograph their fans, assured him that they would 
never forget the Russians. 

Late in the evening of April 29, the sails were set and, early on 
April 30, the Nadezhda weighed anchor. The Japanese had forbidden 
the Russians to approach land again, but at the northern tip of 

si See for example the missive from the Manchu Emperor Ch'ien Lung to King 
George III of Britain in a.d. 1793, as cited in A. F. Whyte, China and Foreign Powers, 
Appendix, 41. 



Hokkaido dense fog forced them to interrupt their voyage. A Jap 
anese official hastened aboard and demanded that the Russians de- 
part at once. He threatened them with a ileet of many ships from 
Matsumae and, blowing up his cheeks, exploded in furious "boom 
booms" — a warning of things to come. The Russians assured him 
that, as soon as the weather improved, they would continue their 
voyage, and when the fog lifted the Nadezhda sailed away. ,! " 


From Nagasaki the Nadezhda proceeded up the west coast of Japan 
through Tsushima Strait and the Sea of Japan to Kamchatka. The 
Japanese had tried to dissuade the Russians from taking this route, 
describing it as almost impassable — narrow, lull of reels, and swept 
by a strong current. But Krusenstern persisted, because the western 
shores of Kyushu, Honshu, and Hokkaido, much of the Korean coast 
and of Sakhalin Island, as well as several Kuril Islands remained as 
yet unexplored. On the other hand, he was forced to make the promise 
to the Japanese not to approach their shores, except in dire emer- 
gency, and negotiated the strait without surveying either the shores 
of Japan or of Korea. Thick fogs, which enveloped the vessel most 
of the way, assisted Krusenstern in keeping the promise. 63 Only when 
he reached latitude 39 N. did he approach Japanese soil again, 
having given notice in Nagasaki that he planned to reconnoiter the 
strait between Honshu and Hokkaido. The Nadezhda entered Tsu- 
garu (then Sangar) Strait, which proved far more narrow than con- 
temporary maps suggested, and, on May 15, approached Matsumae 
City (now Fukuyama) to within three miles. Sailing out of Tsugaru 
Strait again, the ship continued northward, around the western shore 
of Hokkaido across Soya (La Perouse) Strait to Sakhalin Island. In 
Aniwa Bay the Russians went ashore at the Japanese settlement Ku- 
shunkotan (later called Korsakov by the Russians). Then they sailed 
alonq; the eastern coast of the island up to latitude 48 N., where 
heavy ice forced them to discontinue their exploration, and to follow 
the Kuril Archipelago to Kamchatka. On June 17, 1805, they set 
foot on the continent again. 64 

62 Novakovskii, 97-101; Polonskii, 557; Langsdorff, Voyages, 318; Ramming, Reisen, 64. 

63 Krusenstern did chart Goto, Tsushima and Oki Islands, and on May 3-5 sighted 
the shores of Japan between latitude 30°i5' and 33°45'- 

04 Novakovskii, 105-109; Sgibnev, "Popytki," 59-60. 



At Petropavlovsk the paths of Krusenstern and the envoy diverged. 
In accordance with instructions from Rezanov, Krusenstern resumed 
his survey of the Sakhalin shores, rounding the northern part of the 
island and approaching the Amur Estuary. He proved that, contrary 
to contemporary maps, Sakhalin and Karafuto were one and the same, 
but, hesitant to investigate Tatar Strait too closely for fear he arouse 
the suspicions of the Manchus and thereby endanger Russian trade 
with China, if not the safety of his own vessel — he imagined the ap- 
proaches of the Amur River must be guarded by a Manchu fleet — 
and forewarned by his instructions not to antagonize the Chinese, 
he retraced his steps, seconding La Perouse's misconception that the 
strait between Sakhalin and the mainland was not navigable. From 
Sakhalin, Krusenstern returned to Kamchatka and from there to 
Kronstadt (August 25, 1806) where the Neva had arrived a week 
earlier. Rezanov, meanwhile, in order to avoid further conflict with 
Krusenstern, departed for the American colonies on the Company 
vessel Mariia Magdalena. Rezanov had not regained his health— in 
Japan he had complained of rheumatic pains and an oppression upon 
the chest — and he took along Langsdorff as his personal physician. 65 
In August 1805, he went ashore at Novo-Arkhangelsk (New Arch- 
angel, Sitka) on Baranov Island, the headquarters of Russian America, 
and busied himself with company affairs. The winter of 1805-1806 
was most severe, and starvation and scurvy decimated the settlement. 
To replenish it with foodstuffs and to arrange for a regular source 
of supplies, Rezanov purchased the cargo-laden American sloop 
Iunona (Juno) and in the spring proceeded to San Francisco, there 
to negotiate with the Spaniards. 

Rezanov was well received by the local presidio, Don Jose Dario 
Argiiello, but though the latter agreed that commerce would be of 
mutual benefit, he insisted that it was illegal and that he did not 
have the authority to permit it. Rezanov, meanwhile, in his frequent 
visits to the house of the commandant, became attracted to Dona 
Concepcion or "Concha," the commandant's beautiful sixteen-year 
old daughter, and asked for her hand. The parents and the Catholic 
clergy objected, but Dona Concepcion sided with the forty-two year 
old widower, and together they prevailed. Rezanov was betrothed 
to the young woman and plans were made for a wedding upon his 

65 Novakovskii, 111; Tikhmenev, 1: 112; Langsdorff, Voyages, 294; Thomas C. Russell, 
The Rezanov Voyage to Nueva California in 1806, 86. 



return from Europe with the necessary royal and papal sanctions. 
Then Rczanov worked out the preliminaries of a commercial agree- 
ment with the Spaniards and obtained the foodstuffs alter which he 
had come. With these he returned to Novo- Arkhangelsk in May.'" 

California, not to mention Oregon and British Columbia, were 
much on Rezanov's mind. Even before coming to San Francisco, he 
had proposed, in a seeret report to the directors of the Russian- 
American Company, the colonization of the Columbia River valley, 
both lor its own sake and as a base for further expansion. "Should 
we be enabled to take the first steps in this direction," he had writ- 
ten from Novo- Arkhangelsk, on February 15, 1806, "I dare say that 
we shall be in a position to attract colonists to Columbia from various 
places, and that within ten years we shall grow so strong that at the 
first ever so slightly favorable conjuncture of political circumstances 
in Europe it will be possible to add the California littoral to Rus- 
sian possessions. " ,,T But Rezanov did not forget Japan. The smart of 
the Japanese rebuff still rankled in him. 

The failure of Rezanov's mission to Japan has been variously ex- 
plained. Philipp Franz von Siebold attributed it to Rezanov's nn- 
familiarity with Japanese customs, etiquette, and language; the Dutch 
factor Doeff saw it in Rezanov's hesitation to surrender all arms im- 
mediately and in Rezanov's lack of diplomatic experience; Krusen- 
stern, Langsdorff, and others considered Russian efforts thwarted 
primarily by Dutch intrigues; M. Veniukov believed Rezanov had 
not been persistent enough in the face of Japanese anti-foreignism; 
the journals Russkii Khudozhestvennyi Listok and Otechestvennyia 
Zapiski took Rezanov to task for inconsiderateness, impatience, and 
lack of tact; Bartold attributed failure to the Dutch desire to monop- 
olize trade and to the friction between the envoy and the captain—^ 
Krusenstern, like Catherine the Great, being unimpressed by pros- 
pects of trade with Japan. Yet there is no reason to assume that, even 
with the cooperation of the Dutch and with more support on the 
part of Krusenstern, greater diplomatic skill and patience alone would 
have sufficed to dissuade the Shogunate from the, by now, traditional 
seclusion policy. Voenskii suggests that, had Rezanov come at the 
head of a strong naval squadron, he might have opened Japan half 
a century before an American show of force did so. One must not 

G6 Atherton, 657-659; Dumas Malone, Dictionary of American Biography, xv, 523-524. 
67 Avrahm Yarmolinsky, "A rambling note on the 'Russian Columbus' Nikolai 
Petrovich Rezanov," 710; Tikhmenev, 2: 233. 



forget, however, that Commodore Matthew Calbraith Perry, the 
American negotiator, was not acting in a political vacuum in the 
i85o's. The threat of force on his part was accentuated by British 
and French naval successes in China in the 1840's, by the pressure 
of a Russian fleet in Japanese waters, and the expectation of men- 
of-war from other countries. Actually Rezanov had not failed as 
miserably as he himself had assumed. Humiliated though he felt, 
he had been asked to do no more than to conform to the etiquette 
of the country and, in fact, had not been forced to do so. From the 
Japanese point of view, he had been permitted to abide by European 
customs. At their rudest, the Japanese officials had treated him with 
greater respect than some of his own mutinous subordinates. His 
diplomatic efforts had made a more favorable impression on the 
Japanese than on his own countrymen, so much so that Marquis 
Okuma Shigenobu, one time Prime Minister of Japan, expressed 
the view in later years that it was Rezanov who first really demon- 
strated to the Japanese the need of opening the country. 68 

Rezanov did not resort to force during his negotiations, yet as he 
left Japan he made plans to castigate the Japanese into submission. 
This decision was prodded by personal slight and by the feeling 
that his country and Emperor had been insulted. Above all, Rezanov's 
decision was a desperate effort to open Japan to trade, for he re- 
garded such trade with Japan not merely as a source of additional 
profit for his Company and himself, but as the only satisfactory 
means of supplying the "breadless" Russian colonies along the Pacific. 
His decision to undertake hostilities against Japan seems to have 
matured on his way from Kamchatka to Novo-Arkhangelsk. As he 
sailed aboard the Mariia Magdalena, he associated with two young 
naval officers in the service of the Russian-American Company: Lieu- 
tenant Nikolai Khvostov and Ensign Gavriil Davydov. In conver- 
sation with them, he developed his plans. On July 30, 1805, he re- 
ported in a letter to Emperor Alexander I, that, having strengthened 
the American establishments and having built new vessels, it was 
now possible "to force the Japanese to open trade, which their people 
desires very strongly." Expressing confidence that Alexander would 
not disapprove, he conveyed the intention next year to set out with 
his "worthy collaborators" Khvostov and Davydov for the shores 
of Japan in order to destroy the Japanese settlement on Matsumae, 

68 Novakovskii, 100-104; Barthold, Geographische, 125; Kojiruien, xxvm, 54. 



dislodge the Japanese from Sakhalin, and spread terror along their 
shores, and, having deprived them of their fishery and food, to force 
them to enter into trade relations with Russia. With a touch of doubt, 
he claimed readiness to be punished as a criminal for having acted 
without orders, but ended on the ringing note that "my conscience 
will upbraid me still more, if I shall let time pass in vain and not 
sacrifice to Your glory."" 1 ' 

Rezanov's decision was not "anti-Japanese." lie had his quarrel 
with those who had rebuffed him, but he thought, as he noted in 
the letter, that the Japanese people desired relations with Russia. 
As a matter of fact, he had reason to believe that this was the wish 
of some officials in the government itself and that strong measures 
on his part would enable this faction to gain the upper hand. This 
conviction can be traced to a conversation he had with a Megasaki 
official several days before his departure from Japan. The official 
had informed him that, in 1792, the Shogun and his advisers had 
sincerely planned to trade with the Russians, when the Nagasaki 
Permit was handed to Laxman. But as the years passed and the ex- 
pected Russian vessels failed to appear, rival officials had gained in- 
fluence. When Rezanov arrived, the Megasaki officials asserted, the 
Shogun had wished to receive him, but his advisers had insisted that 
imperial sanction be procured. The Emperor in turn was said to have 
called together over two hundred lords for advice. These failed to 
agree among themselves and the Emperor had had to make his own 
decision. Allegedly, he had declared the permission given to Laxman 
an insult to himself, for he had not been consulted, and made the 
whole question an internal political issue. Unwilling to precipitate 
an open break with the Emperor and reluctant to assert his domi- 
nance by force, the shogun had found it necessary to rebuff Rezanov. 
Rezanov thus considered military action not solely as a means of 
retribution and intimidation, but also as indirect support of the 
Shogunate in its struggle with the seemingly more anti-foreign im- 
perial forces. 70 

^Tikhmenev, 1: 154; Novakovskii, 112-113. 

ToVoenskii (October), 234-235; Golownin, Memoirs, in, 279 (pages 253 to 302 are 
devoted to Vice-Admiral Schischkoff [Shishkovj's "Account of the Voyages of Messrs. 
Chwostoff and Dawidoff"). Kurihara Ken expresses the thought that Japan can be 
thankful that Russia's preoccupation with Napoleon limited Rezanov's military re- 
sources to those of the Russian-American Company. (Yano, 169-170.) It is unlikely 
that the tsarist government should have abetted the aggressive plans of Rezanov under 
any circumstances, as they were counter to traditional policy toward Japan; the govern- 
ment was sincere in condemning and disassociating itself from the activities of Khvostov 
and Davydov, 



Rezanov mentioned Sakhalin in his letter to Alexander I. It is 
possible that he had discussed the importance of the island with 
Krusenstern as the Nadezhda had reconnoitered its shores on the way 
back from Japan. At any rate Krusenstern, like Rezanov, envisaged 
the annexation of Sakhalin. Krusenstern wrote: "Control over Aniwa 
can be gained without any resistance and the bay can be held easily 
since there are no troops either in the northern part of Ezo or on 
Sakhalin. One small battery of twelve cannons and one small warship 
would suffice to beat off an attack by the Japanese, if their Emperor 
would get the idea of sending troops from Matsumae to chase away 
the strangers — which, by the way, is an impossibility." 71 Rezanov 
believed that a fortified Russian colony on Sakhalin Island could keep 
the settlement on Matsumae in constant fear and thereby force 
the Japanese to seek commercial relations with the Russians. At 
the same time, such a Russian colony would cost nothing; it could 
pay for itself, indeed bring in profits, through hunting. The Japanese 
relied heavily on coastal shipping for transportation. Rezanov pro- 
posed that company vessels seize the supply-laden barges and cut 
Japan's life line. This, he was convinced, would arouse so much 
popular dissatisfaction in Japan that the government would be forced 
to come to terms with Russia. 72 Rezanov recalled that in the middle 
of the eighteenth century his countrymen had gained a foothold on 
Sakhalin, but he did not know what had happened to the colonists. 
The Japanese meanwhile had taken possession of the island, cruelly 
subjugating the natives. Rezanov wished to drive the Japanese off, 
and to raze their establishments to the ground, proclaiming the Ainu 
Russian subjects instead. In the process several Japanese were to be 
taken prisoner and a special effort was to be made to capture one of 
their priests and bring back a temple with all its statues and sacred 
utensils. This would make it possible, once the Japanese prisoners 
were taken to Okhotsk, to treat them particularly well, with their 
priest ministering to their spiritual needs. After a year, the Japanese 
were to be sent back to their homeland to tell their countrymen of 
the good treatment they had experienced and to inspire them with 
confidence in the Russians! 73 Startling as the psychology of such an 
approach may be at first glance, on occasions it was to prove effec- 
tive. Certainly it is an interesting link with the modern "brainwash- 

71 Sgibnev, "Popytki," 59. 

72 Tikhmenev, 1: 154-155. 

73 Golownin, in, 279-280. 



ing" of prisoners of war. Not all prisoners were thus to be repatriated, 
however. According to Golovnin, Rezanov planned the exploitation 
of Japanese prisoners for company work in America, selecting lor 
their settlement a tiny island in Sitka sound, to this day called Japon- 
ski (Iaponskii or Japanese) Island. 71 

At Novo- Arkhangelsk Rezanov addressed the following letter to 
Khvostov and Davydov on September 10, 1805: 

My dear gentlemen, Nikolai Aleksandrovich and Gavrilo Lvanovich: 

Your first journey to America made me acquainted with your bold, 
enterprising spirit; your happy return to Europe is a proof of your tal- 
ents; but your second journey hither convinced me, how deeply the senti- 
ments of true patriotism are imprinted on your generous hearts. I have 
also had the pleasure of making some voyages with you, which have in- 
delibly impressed upon my mind the agreeable conviction, that an ex- 
alted spirit esteems the public good beyond every thing. The commander 
in chief of this country is animated with the same zeal, the same spirit, 
which our posterity will one day appreciate more than we do. This happy 
meeting together of some persons, who labour to promote one end has 
induced me to undertake, next year, an expedition which may perhaps 
open a new channel in commerce, furnish this part ot the world with the 
necessary subsistence, and to secure them from want. For this purpose 
we want two armed vessels, a brig, and a tender. They may be built here, 
and I have already given my directions for this purpose to the governor. 
I must now observe to you, Gentlemen, that these first ships, for this 
first expedition, must have first-rate officers: as I am no seaman, I can 
only bear testimony to your exertions, your activity, and your success. 
Without attempting to penetrate deeper into this science, to which I am 
wholly a stranger, I can judge only by comparison, and by what I have 
seen, and I am convinced, that your journals fully answer my opinion. I 
shall not cease to have the highest respect for the great and noble actions, 
which in the eyes of all who love their country, place you among the 
most distinguished officers; I therefore now intreat you as my friends, 
who, are ready to sacrifice themselves to the general good, to which we 
so willingly devote ourselves, to be ready to take the command of the 
vessels in question, and to divide it between you according to your rank; 
for this purpose to proceed immediately to examine the drawings which 
the master-shipwrights will exhibit, and when you have approved of 
them, take upon you to superintend the building, so that they may be 
ready at the end of April, and we be able to sail at the beginning of May. 
I know that many obstacles arise, but when was a great enterprise ever 
accomplished without difficulties? They cannot deter us, and only add 
to our honor. I do not think it necessary to express myself more at length 
respecting this expedition, for which I shall give you, in due time, ample 

74 Novakovskii, 114. 



instructions. The zeal of the workmen gives me hopes that the ships will 
be well built; the happy success of the undertaking is guaranteed by your 
experience and talents. I confess that I am impatient for the time which 
will call you to act; let us proceed with united endeavours, to the exe- 
cution of this great enterprise, and let us shew the world that, in our 
happy age, a handful of bold Russians can equal those prodigious actions, 
to which millions of other nations attain only in a succession of Ages. 
I have the honor to be, with the greatest respect, 


Your devoted Servant, 
Nikolai Rezanov. 75 

The purchase of the American sloop Iunona, on which, it will be 
recalled, Rezanov sailed to San Francisco in spring 1806, hastened 
preparations for the expedition against Japan, as only one vessel 
remained to be constructed. Even so, work progressed slowly, because 
Aleksandr Baranov, who supervised Company affairs in America, 
was reluctant to divert workmen from catching seal, and because he 
disapproved of hostilities against Japan. When Rezanov returned 
from California in June, the vessel was not yet completed. A month 
later the vessel was at last finished and named Avos ("Perhaps" or "It 
is to be hoped"). 

No reply — positive or negative — had as yet been received by 
Rezanov to his letter to Alexander I. The difficulty of ever obtain- 
ing sanction for his plans must have gradually impressed itself upon 
his conscience, for he began to sway in his determination. On August 
2, 1806, when preparations for departure had been completed, 
Rezanov, who had planned to direct action against Japan personally, 
wrote Khvostov that he was unable to sail along, and that the tender 
would have to remain behind also. Rezanov did not cancel the ex- 
pedition, but neither did he provide Khvostov with detailed instruc- 
tions. Three days later he reassigned the tender to the expedition 
and, on August 6, departed himself with the vessel. On August 20, 
he changed his mind again and ordered Khvostov to take him to 
Okhotsk, so that he could hurry overland to St. Petersburg to report 
to the Emperor. But he reiterated his plans concerning Sakhalin and 
Japan. Davydov on the Avos was to head directly to the Kuril Islands 
and Sakhalin. There in Aniwa Bay or La Perouse Strait Khvostov on 
the Iunona was to rejoin him by October 9. If, for any reason, 
Khvostov should not reach the place of rendezvous in time, Davydov 

75Golownin, in, 281-284; Novakovskii, 114-115- The references to time (beginning 
or end of a month) are in the old style. 



was to commence hostilities on his own. Rezanov commanded that 
the expedition be cloaked in secrecy, all concerned being made to 
sign a promise not to reveal anything. Near Unalaska, one of the 
Aleutian Islands, the vessels separated, Davydov setting course for 
Uruppu Island, Rezanov and Khvostov lor Okhotsk. 70 

At Okhotsk Rezanov went ashore. As he did so, he took with him 
the written instructions he had given Khvostov in order to elab- 
orate on them. On October 6, as the Iunona lay ready for immediate 
departure, Rezanov sent back the instructions with the following 

Upon your arrival at Okhotsk, 1 think it necessary to say something 
to you, respecting the instructions which have been given to you. The 
defect discovered in the foremast, and contrary winds, delayed our 
voyage. The lateness of the season therefore obliges you immediately to 
hasten to America. The time for your junction with the tender, in Aniwa 
Bay, is already past; the fishery there being ended, a happy result is not 
to be expected. When I consider all the circumstances I find it necessary 
that, disregarding all the instructions previously given, you sail to Amer- 
ica, to increase the garrison of the harbor of Novo-Arkhangelsk. The 
Avos tender must, besides, return according to its instructions; but if the 
wind should allow you to put into Aniwa Bay, without losing time, en- 
deavor to gain the natives of Sakhalin by presents and medals, and 
examine the situation of the Japanese settlements in that island. This 
alone, but particularly your return to America, will do you honor; the 
latter therefore must be the chief object of your exertions. You will give 
the same directions to the tender, in case you should meet with it. In 
general, you will doubtless find means to reconcile the unforeseen cir- 
cumstances which may occur upon the voyage, with the interest of the 
company; and your talents and experience will doubtless tell you how 
this last direction may be best executed. On my part I regret extremely 
that this port does not afford means to change the mast, and that the 
concurrence of circumstances has induced me to change the plans. 77 

What did Rezanov want Khvostov to do? The supplementary note 
obscured his intentions. If Rezanov wished to cancel the expedition, 
why did he return the same instructions with the note? Why did 
he not substitute others in their stead? Would Rezanov have canceled 
such an expedition on the spur of the moment after having reported 
it already to the Emperor? It is true, the note claimed to supersede 

76Golownin, m, 284-286; Sgibnev, "Popytki," 64; Novakovskii, 115; Atherton, 659-660. 

77 Signed Nikolai Rezanov, September 24 (October 6), 1806. No. 609; Golownin, ill, 
286-288; Sgibnev, "Popytki," 64. The text in the English version of Golovnin's narra- 
tive was accurate enough to be used here without modification except for the changing 
of place names to the forms used throughout the book. 



all previous orders, but it left the way open for action on Sakhalin 
and in general was so filled with modifications that it was not clear 
at all whether Rezanov really wished to call off the whole project 
or merely to postpone it, if necessary. Khvostov hastened ashore to 
get an explanation from Rezanov, but the latter had already set 
out for the capital. Khvostov thought the matter over and decided 
that Rezanov had not intended to cancel the expedition, but merely 
to postpone it. He weighed the damages of the Iunona, the uncer- 
tainty of success, and the lateness of the season against the danger, 
which the unexpected delay would entail for the Avos, whether 
Davydov still expected him or had ventured to initiate hostilities 
on his own, and decided to carry out the original orders, his youthful 
appetite for glory whetted by the prospects of danger. 78 

On October 18, 1806, Khvostov reached Sakhalin Island. In Aniwa 
Bay he did not find the Avos, which had interrupted its voyage, be- 
cause of bad weather and damages, and had pulled into Petropavlovsk. 
But he did find a Japanese vessel, riding at anchor off the small Jap- 
anese settlement at Kushunkotan. Khvostov effected a landing and, 
confronting a number of Japanese in their office, read them a proc- 
lamation. The Japanese could not understand it, of course, but they 
gathered from gestures that it was trade that the strangers demanded. 
Then the Russians seized four of the Japanese guards of the Matsu- 
mae clan, and carried them aboard the Iunona. They pillaged the 
warehouses taking rice, salt, sake, and other products. What they did 
not need they burned, setting fire to houses, vessels, and fishing nets. 
They even carried away the deity of a local temple. 79 At the entrance 
to the temple they posted a copper plate with a notice, to this effect: 

1. It is unjust of the Japanese to hinder trade of the Russians on 
Sakhalin Island. 

2. If the Japanese should change their decision and wish to trade, 
they can send notification thereof to Sakhalin Island or to Etorofu Island. 

3. If the Japanese will persist for long in denying the just demand, 
the Russians will lay waste the northern part of Japan. 80 

It was the Japanese, whom Khvostov sought to intimidate; the Ainu 
he treated with consideration, and presented a written communica- 
tion to the native chieftain: 

78 Golownin, Memoirs, in, 288-289; Sgibnev, "Popytki," 64. 

"9 Sgibnev, "Popytki," 61-63; Novakovskii, 116; W. G. Aston, "Russian Descents into 
Saghalien and Itorup," 79. 

so Novakovskii, 117; Aston, 79. 



On October 12 (24), 180O the Russian frigate Iunona under the command 
of Lieutenant Khvostov gave to the elder of the settlement on the west- 
ern shore of Anivva a medal on the Vladimir ribbon as a sign of taking 
the island Sakhalin and its inhabitants under the patronage of the Rus- 
sian Emperor Alexander 1. All other vessels, Russian or foreign, that may 
come in the future are to be asked to regard the elder as a Russian sub- 

iect. 81 

By the end of October, Khvostov headed back lor Kamchatka. 
Davydov was still in Pctropavlovsk and they spent the winter to- 
gether. On May 16, 1807, they cut their way through the ice and 
set out together to "liberate" the natives of the Kuril Islands from 
Japanese "tyranny" and acquire more loot in the process. They must 
have thought their actions justifiable, for they did not sneak away 
furtively, but dispatched a full report to the Minister of the Navy 
before departing. Hugging the Kuril Archipelago, one vessel on 
each side, Khvostov and Davydov reached Etorofu Island on May 
30, and cast anchor in Naibo Bay. Two days later they landed. 

Etorofu had been a Japanese colony lor over a decade. It boasted 
a population of over a thousand Ainu, engaged mainly in salmon 
fishery, and a garrison of over three hundred Japanese of the Nambu 
and Tsugaru clans, not to mention five ladies and a sake brewer. The 
garrison was stationed at Shana, where a walled fortress had been 
erected. At Naibo, where Khvostov and Davydov first landed, there 
was only a small settlement. 

The Russians landed in force, discharging cannons and muskets. 
They looted the guard house taking clothing and other property, 
then set fire to the Japanese settlement. Again, they sought to ap- 
pease the Ainu and handed them the fish and salt they had plundered 
from the Japanese. When they finally withdrew to their ships, they 
dragged along several Japanese guards, whom they had succeeded 
in capturing. Among them was Nakagawa Goroji, who, having lived 
on Etorofu, had picked up some Russian, and had gone forth to meet 
the raiders in a vain attempt to negotiate with them. 82 So pleased 
were Khvostov and Davydov with their success that they named 
Naibo Bay "Dobroe Nachalo" (A good Beginning). 83 

si Sgibnev, "Popytki," 64; Vasilii Mikhailovich Golovnin, Zapiski Vasiliia Mikhailo- 
vicha Golovnina v plenu u Iapontsev, 1:102. 

82 Nakagawa by chance was to learn about smallpox vaccination in Russia. On his 
return to Japan this knowledge was to be of considerable benefit to his countrymen 
and turn the misfortune of his captivity into personal honor and renown. (Abe Masami, 
Nakagawa Goroji to shuto denrai, 23-24.) 

83 Sgibnev, "Popytki," 63-64; Novakovskii, 117-118; Inobe, 219-223; Aston, 81-82. For 
a map showing Russian raids in 1807, see Hokkaido-shi, n, 457. 



On June 3, the Iunona and Avos weighed anchor. On the second 
day they appeared at Shana, the main stronghold. The attack on 
the Japanese settlement on Sakhalin Island the preceding year, had 
caused the Japanese to reinforce the garrison at Shana, and the Jap- 
anese who had hastened here from Naibo after the new raids brought 
warning of the impending threat. Guards were posted on all the 
neighboring headlands and watch fires were kept burning throughout 
the night. But the two chief officers of Shana were away, and Toda 
Matadae, on whom the responsibility of defense fell, hesitated to be 
the one to precipitate hostilities. Mamiya Rinzo, the famous Japanese 
explorer, who had been on the shores of Siberia, happened to be in 
Shana just then. He is said to have recognized the vessels as Russian 
men-of-war and to have urged Toda to open fire. When Toda not- 
withstanding the attack on Naibo, expressed the view that the in- 
tentions of the Russians might be peaceful and therefore he could 
not open fire, Mamiya shouted excitedly, "Quick! Quick! Shoot! We 
must chase them away at once!" But Toda prevailed over Mamiya 
and his colleagues, and sent an interpreter, accompanied by several 
Japanese and a number of Ainu, to meet the Russians and ask what 
they wanted. 

Khvostov and Davydov were not inhibited by diplomatic niceties. 
They opened fire on the would-be negotiators, wounding the inter- 
preter and killing one of the Ainu. Thereupon the Japanese returned 
fire and a general engagement ensued. The fortress was protected by 
several cannons of small caliber, but, due to their emplacement, they 
could be pointed in one direction only. The fortress was manned 
by over two hundred soldiers, equipped with matchlocks and bows. 
They did not attempt to overrun the Russian landing party, which 
numbered less than thirty sailors, but were satisfied with holding 
the Russians at bay. A relatively harmless duel followed, with the 
Russians firing from behind the shelter of an oil-pressing shed on the 
beach, and the Japanese from behind the walls of the fortress about 
a hundred and sixty yards away. After two hours of shooting, only 
one Russian and two Japanese were killed and several persons 
wounded. When the Russians ran out of ammunition they withdrew 
to their vessels. The Japanese were so relieved at the retreat of the 
Russians, that they did not bother to light the usual watchfires. At 
night, under cover of darkness, the Russians sneaked ashore again 
and made their way to the fortress unnoticed. When they suddenly 
opened fire, the Japanese were overcome by panic and took to the 
hills with the shout "ware ichi" — each one for himself! Mamiya 



Rinzo, who had warned Toda not to trust the Russians was right there 
with the others, propelled by a Russian bullet in his buttocks. The 
Japanese laboriously made their way to the western shore of the 
island, from there to Kunashiri and eventually to Hakodate. Toda, 
who had fled to the hills, was no longer with them. Unable to ben 
the smart of the garrison's ignominious flight, he had disembowelled 
himself. Yet such was the bitterness of his countrymen, that one of 
his comrades could not resist the remark that rather than die like a 
dog, he should have died like a hero, facing the enemy. sl 

The Russians could not believe that the whole garrison had fled. 
Fearing a trap, they did not venture into the fortress until dawn. 
When they saw that it was really deserted, they swarmed in and 
hauled oil its stores of rice, shoyu, and sake. Triumphantly they 
took the ornamental spears and halberds, which the Japanese had 
proudly placed at the gates of the fortress. They began drinking 
some of the sake, and soon the glory of victory turned into boisterous 
drunkenness. They burned everything — the fortress, the houses, the 
brewery, the Ainu huts. Traditionally the Japanese had called the 
Russians "aka-hito" or Red Men, because, as some say, their hair 
appeared red, or because, as others suggest, they wore red coats. So 
complete was the desolation, so humiliating the defeat inflicted by 
Khvostov and Davydov that henceforth the Russians came to be 
known as "aka-oni" or Red Devils. 

When the raiders withdrew, two remained behind in a shed, asleep 
in a drunken stupor. They were never to awaken, for several Ainu and 
a Japanese, who returned after the other Russians had withdrawn, 
speared them to death. Their heads were cut off and salted, then 
sent to Hakodate together with their weapons and clothing — grisly 
mementos of an ambassador's revenge. 85 

On June 8, the Iunona and Avos weighed anchor and sailed to 
Uruppu. Not a single survivor was found here in the settlement be- 

*4The lack of courage displayed by the Japanese soldiery in the early nineteenth cen- 
tury was a reflection of the protracted peace with which Japan had been blessed during 
the Seclusion Period. It contrasted sharply with Japanese reaction to the Mongol in- 
vasions in the late thirteenth century and with Japanese militarism in the years fol- 
lowing the opening of the country. Japanese satirists were quick to lampoon in verse 
and song the spineless efforts of their fleet-footed guardians. See Fukase Shunichi, "Bun- 
ka Roko jiken to rakushu." 

ss On June 6, 1807, the American merchant vessel Eclipse arrived in Nagasaki under 
Russian colors, commissioned by some official of the Russian-American Company to 
open trade relations with Japan. Upon advice of the Dutch factor, who hastened out 
to the ship and warned of Japanese anger at the Russian raids, Captain Joseph O'Kean 
quickly lowered the Russian flag and concealed the Muscovite supercargo. (Harry Emer- 
son Wildes, Aliens in the East, 148-149.) 



gun by Vasilii Zvezdochetov in 1795, only the traces of buildings 
and a board with the notice that, until 1803 all had gone well, but 
that thereafter illness and death had overtaken Zvezdochetov and 
some of his party, and that the remainder had decided to leave. From 
Uruppu Khvostov and Davydov proceeded southward again. They 
rounded the northwestern part of Hokkaido and, entering Tsugaru 
Strait from the west, sailed past Hakodate. They made no attempt to 
attack the city, but when they came upon a war junk, promptly opened 
fire. The Japanese made no attempt to fight back; they jumped into 
boats and rowed frantically ashore. The Russians removed whatever 
they wanted, then set fire to the junk. After this incident they headed 
back to Sakhalin and, on June 23, cast anchor in Aniwa Bay at the 
settlement of Rutaka, not far from Kushunkotan. The Matsumae 
clansmen, who had been here, had fled after the raid on Kushunko- 
tan, and the Russians were assured by the Ainu that no Japanese 
had been back since the previous year. Just for good measure, how- 
ever, the Russians picked out buildings which appeared to be Jap- 
anese, at Rutaka and elsewhere in the bay, and destroyed them. On 
the 27th, they came upon a deserted factory, looked it over, took 
several iron kettles, and set fire to the buildings. From Sakhalin, 
Khvostov and Davydov headed toward Hokkaido again. At Rishiri 
Island, near the entrance to Soya Harbor, they intercepted four Jap- 
anese vessels (two of the Shogunate, two of the Matsumae clan), 
laden with supplies for local garrisons. They appropriated the rich 
cargo, and destroyed the ships. In the booty there was allegedly a 
ten-pounder bronze cannon, captured by Toyotomi Hideyoshi from 
the Koreans in the closing years of the sixteenth century. By now 
the Iunona and Avos were loaded to the gunwales with booty, and 
Khvostov and Davydov were ready to leave the shores of Japan. 86 
They released all but two of the prisoners they had taken on Sakhalin 
and Etorofu, and sent them ashore with a written declaration in 
broken Japanese to the following effect: 


The distance between Russia and Japan being but small, our Emperor 
sent his officers across the sea to request that trade between the two coun- 
tries might be permitted. If due inquiry had been made and a treaty of 
commerce concluded, all would have been well, but although our officers 
went repeatedly to Nagasaki they were sent away without an answer. Then 
things took an unpleasant turn, and our Emperor commanded us to give 

ss Inobe, 219-223; Sgibnev, "Popytki," 64-65; Novakovskii, 118-121; Aston, 82-86. 



you a specimen of his power in return for your refusing to listen to his 
first request. If you persist in refusing his oilers we will take all your 
northern territory away from you and if possible get an answer out of 
you in that way. The Red Men can always come to Sakhalin and Etorofu 
and chase you about. 

If you comply with our wishes, we shall always be good friends with 
you; if not, we will come again with more ships and behave in the same 
way as we have done before this year. 

Oroshiya [Russia]. 87 

With t.his written declaration, Khvostov and Davydov sent ashore 
the oral message: that a reply should be sent to Sakhalin, Etorofu, 
or Uruppu. Then Khvostov and Davydov exchanged congratulatory 
gun salutes and started back for Okhotsk, where they arrived safely, 

on July 28. 

Proud of having carried out Rezanov's original instructions in 
spite of the obstacles, which had been the alleged reason for his later 
indecision, Khvostov and Davydov looked forward to informing 
Rezanov and the government of their success. But Rezanov had never 
reached the capital. His return to Okhotsk from Novo- Arkhangelsk 
had been delayed, because Baranov, the manager, had failed to work 

st t have cited here the version given by Aston (86), except for a slight modification 
in the spelling of place names. A somewhat different version appears in Okamoto s 
Nichi-Ro kosho Hokkaido shiko. Pozdneev gives the alleged original kana text, so 
poor in grammar and presentation, which Okamoto uses, together with a corrected 
clearer Japanese rendition. (Pozdneev, II, 2: 176-178-) These differ somewhat from the 
text which I have cited, but as Pozdneev notes, it is impossible to determine which 
of the various Japanese sources is more reliable. Still another version is given by Rus- 
sian sources (Polonskii, 560): 

"The neighborhood of Russia and Japan compelled one to desire friendly relations 
for the true well-being of the latter empire, for which purpose an embassy was sent 
also to Nagasaki; but its rejection, insulting to Russia, and the spreading of trade of 
the Japanese over the Kuril Islands and Sakhalin, as to possessions of the Russian Em- 
pire forced this power to use at last other measures, which will show that the Russians 
can always inflict harm on Japanese commerce until such time, as they will be informed 
through the inhabitants of Uruppu or Sakhalin of the desire of trade with us. The 
Russians having this time inflicted such slight harm to the Japanese empire wanted 
only to show them thereby, that the northern territories of the latter can always be 
harmed by them and that further obstinacy of the Japanese government may deprive 
it completely of these lands." 

The general meaning of the different versions is the same. They threaten the Japa- 
nese in the name of the Russian government. The version translated from Polonskii 
is worthy of quotation for the additional claim it lays on Russian possession of Sakha- 
lin and the Kuril Islands. No distinction is made between the northern and southern 
Kuril Islands, though it is demanded that Japanese communication be sent to Sakhalin 
or Uruppu, not, as in the oral message cited by Aston, also to Etorofu, one of the 
southern islands. Japanese officials in later years stated that the Dutch, when consulted 
about the letter had boosted the rank of Khvostov, adding spuriously that the Rus- 
sians planned to conquer the Japanese and to send missionaries to Christianize them. 
(Golovnin, Zapiski, n, 103-104 footnote.) 



on the construction of the Avos during Rezanov's visit to California — 
because he thought it better to use the men to hunt seals, and because 
he did not want trouble with Japan — and Rezanov had dallied to 
see through its completion. This delay proved fatal. Rezanov's health, 
which California's climate and Concha Argiiello's charm had done 
much to improve, had been sapped again by the damp air of Sitka. 
He had not regained his strength, when he had set out on horseback 
from Okhotsk. Langsdorff, who had accompanied Rezanov to America 
as his personal physician, had deserted him at Sitka. Without medical 
advice Rezanov had pushed on through the wild wintry wastes of 
eastern Siberia, from sick-bed to sick-bed, until on March 13, 1807, 
he had finally died at Krasnoiarsk. 8S 

There exist sharply different views as to the character and talents 
of Rezanov. Many were his critics among his own countrymen, not 
the least of them Captain Vasilii Mikhailovich Golovnin, a man of 
good and generally calm judgment, who wrote of Rezanov: "he was 
a quick-tempered and impetuous man, an inventive scribbler, a man 
of many words, having a head more able to build castles in the air 
than to consider and execute well-founded plans, and who lacked 
completely either the patience or the ability to achieve great and 
distant goals." 89 A contrary view was expressed by an American writer 
who speculated on the might-have-beens had Rezanov not died 

It was forty years before the United States was strong enough to take 
possession of California, and it is possible that the towering ambition of 
Rezanov would have acknowledged no bounds short of the Rocky Moun- 
tains . . . Rezanov's greater schemes have since become more definitely 
known, and no one that had studied his life and character can doubt 
that, had he lived ten years longer, what is now the Western section of 
the United States, as well as British Columbia, would be Russian terri- 
tory. Perhaps a war would have been the result, perhaps not. The Russians 
had forty years in which to plant themselves as firmly as the Mexicans, 
and the British in Canada. 90 

Certainly Rezanov's death robbed Russia of one of her most ardent 
empire builders and deprived Khvostov and Davydov of an advocate 
before the imperial government. 

ss Atherton, 659-661; Russell, 86. Early accounts including that rendered by Mr. Russell 
state that Rezanov's death was precipitated by a fall from his horse. Miss Atherton chal- 
lenges this. Concha Argiiello, by the way, waited for Rezanov. When she was at last 
convinced of his death, she took holv orders, becoming California's first nun. 

89 Golovnin, "Zapiska," 86. 

»o Atherton, 660-661. 



Whatever chances of gaining imperial approval Khvostov and 
Davydov may still have bad, were ruined, upon their return, by the 
greed of Captain Bukharin, the commandant of Okhotsk. Stories, 
much adorned, ol their exploits bad preceded them to Okhotsk. 
Believing the vessels to be (died with gold and other treasures, 
Bukharin, who was notorious for his cruelty and antocratic use of 
power, arrested everyone on board the moment the ships entered 
port, under the convenient pretext that Khvostov and Davydov had 
acted without authority. As "state prisoners," Khvostov and Davydov 
were thrown into jail and deprived of everything down to their very 
clothing and shoes. While Bukharin rejoiced in the harvest of rice, 
sake, clothing and weapons that had come his way (worth, by his own 
appraisal, about 18,000 rubles), Khvostov and Davydov suffered 
harsh, inhuman treatment, the worse for refusing to answer questions 
about the expedition on the ground that their instructions had been 
secret. The other officers gave replies that were rather evasive, but 
the lower ranks were frightened into supplying the desired details. 
Khvostov and Davydov succeeded in smuggling out word of their 
predicament to Irkutsk, but it would take at least five or six months 
before orders for their release could be expected from St. Petersburg 
and, chances were, they would be dead from hunger and disease by 
then. Flight seemed the only road to survival. Though they were kept 
apart and did not even know of each other's fate, were constantly 
watched by guards with drawn swords, they managed to get away 
with the help of the inhabitants of Okhotsk and the guards them- 
selves, who hated the commandant. 

Leaving behind notes that they had drugged the guards, Khvostov 
and Davydov commenced their arduous journey to Yakutsk, almost 
six hundred miles away, on September 29. Traveling on foot, sup- 
plied by friendly hands with guns and biscuits, they actually regained 
some of the strength of which two months of confinement had robbed 
them. But not for long; emaciated by want, struggling with great 
hardships, they reached Yakutsk, on October 25, covered in rags and 
utterly exhausted. Their escape had been reported from Okhotsk, 
and they were detained and searched for gold. But they received 
permission to address a communication to Irkutsk, and Governor 
Treskin had them come to that city at the beginning of 1808. Thanks 
to the support of Treskin, the good-will of Governor General Pestel, 
and orders from St. Petersburg, where their letters had been received, 



Khvostov and Davydov continued their journey to the capital. There 
Minister of Commerce Count Rumiantsev, who had supplied 
Rezanov with the instructions for his mission to Japan, was entrusted 
with an investigation of the whole affair. Rumiantsev condoned the 
actions of Khvostov and Davydov and, on August 21, Alexander I 
decreed that they not be held accountable for the raids and that their 
complaints about Bukharin be presented to the Admiralty for review. 
But the Admiralty, took a very different view of things: it acquitted 
Bukharin and courtmartialed Khvostov and Davydov. Meanwhile, 
Khvostov and Davydov had joined the campaign, in which Russia 
wrested Finland from Sweden, and had so distinguished themselves 
in battle that, notwithstanding the findings of the courtmartial, they 
were not punished. In all fairness to Khvostov and Davydov, one 
should add that they had acted less as buccaneers, out to kill and 
plunder, than as officers carrying out the spirit of Rezanov's orders. 
And the nineteenth century was a century of gun-boat diplomacy. 

Their own recklessness shortly put an end to Khvostov and 
Davydov's adventurous careers. In reward for their exceptional 
prowess in the Finnish campaign they were permitted to return to 
St. Petersburg for a rest. On October 16, 1809, they attended a 
farewell party for Captain Wolf from whom they had bought the 
Iunona and who, having arrived from the United States, was about 
to continue to Kronstadt. The get-together was at the house of Pro- 
fessor von Langsdorff, who was living on Vasil'evskii Island. As they 
were returning in the early hours of the morning, they found the 
draw-bridge over the Neva River open. A ship was just passing 
through and in their hurry, emboldened perhaps by the inevitable 
farewell toasts, they tried to jump aboard the vessel and from the 
vessel to the other side of the river again, but in the darkness of the 
night, missed their footing, fell into the river, and were drowned. 91 

If the "warnings" of Benyovszky had gone unheeded, the raids 
of Khvostov and Davydov gave cause for real alarm. The impact of 
Russian aggression was tremendous. The copper plate posted on 
Sakhalin was taken as a declaration of war and attacks were expected 

91 Sgibnev, "Popytki," 65-66; Novakovskii, 121-123; Golovnin, Memoirs, ill, 290-302; 
Pozdneev, 11, 2: 233-234. According to Langsdorff, Khvostov and Davydov actually passed 
the bridge and called to him and Captain Wolf that they had gotten across safely, but 
for some reason or other must have tried to get back to them again. The death of 
Khvostov and Davydov is bemoaned in poetry by Anna Volkova and by A. Sh. (Shish- 
kov?). See Gavrilo Ivanovich Davydov, Dvukratnoe puteshestvie v Ameriku morskikh 
ofitserov Khvostova i Davydova, 1, xliii-xlv. 


li r W ORD AND BY S W R D 

on Edo, the seat of the Shogunate itself, popular imagination identi- 
fying the Russians with the Red Devils, portrayed in Buddhist 
pictures of Hell. The letter to the governor of Matsumae was a 
warning of things to come. Feverishly the Japanese prepared to meet 
the Russian onslaught. As in the case of Benyovszky's "warnings," the 
Japanese turned to the Dutch lor an explanation. The Dutch prom- 
ised to delve into the true causes of the raids, but Europe's absorption 
in the struggle against Napoleon and the aftermath of war and peace 
frustrated these efforts until 1818. 92 By then another incident had 
elicited an explanation from the Russian authorities. 

92 Philipp Franz von Siebold, Nippon, i, 22-23 note 9. 




r*nr*T HE Japanese spoke of the sacredness and inviolability, of 
^'j£ the unalterableness of their ancestral laws, giving the im- 

Xpression that the seclusion policy had remained unchanged 
since its inception. This was misleading, for the seclusion 
decrees themselves had evolved only gradually, and not so much in 
response to certain principles or theories as to the empirical demands 
of the situation. Even when isolation had become a national policy, 
enforcement varied, and despite the absolute power of the Tokugawa 
Shogunate and its totalitarian repression of criticism and dissent, 
there were repeated calls from within the country for the reestablish- 
ment of commercial relations with the Western world. 

It must be kept in mind that Japan had embarked on her policy 
of seclusion without enthusiasm, that, essentially, she had been forced 
by outside pressure to seek security in isolation, a policy which, 
however justified at the time, ran counter to the natural needs of 
the Japanese economy and the interests of the Japanese people. The 
first edicts did not envisage total isolation, but excluded merely 
Roman Catholics and Portuguese. The dangers inherent in the un- 
favorable balance of trade and in the uncontrollable importation of 
firearms led the government to adopt increasingly sweeping measures, 
but by the end of the eighteenth century there was as yet no question 
of "unalterable" seclusion laws and the whole concept of sakoku- 
shugi ("Closed-country-ism") or isolationism developed only gradu- 
ally. Even then a limited contact was kept up with the Dutch and 
the Chinese. There was at first no ideological basis for opposition to 
foreign trade; whatever restrictions were imposed on commerce with 
the Dutch and the Chinese were purely economic. Only by the middle 
of the Tokugawa period did these restrictions become part of the 
physiocratic framework of Confucianist philosophers, but by then 
they were challenged by political economists of the realist school. As 
early as 1720 the prohibitions against Western books and learning- 
were modified sufficiently by Shogun Tokugawa Yoshimune to permit 
the study of Western medicine, geography, and military science, and, 
by the third quarter of the eighteenth century, a leading Japanese 


J A I' A N E S E R /•: A C HON 

statesman actually attempted to circumvent the seclusion policy.' 
This Japanese statesman was Tanuma Okitsugu, the most impor- 
tant minister in the administration of Shogun Tokugawa Ieharu from 
1760 to 1786. A very capable and ambitious man, lie had risen to a 
high position from the lower stratum of the samurai class and was, 
for that reason, less preoccupied with tradition and orthodoxy than 
with practical considerations. One of bis most noteworthy polities 
was the attempt to displace the agrarian base of Japanese finances by 
a commercial one, and he managed temporarily to turn the Deshima 
trade into profit for Japan. When the Russians pushed down the 
Kuril Islands to the very shores of Hokkaido in the 1770's, Tanuma 
appraised their arrival as a great opportunity to develop foreign 
trade, and gave serious consideration to entering into commercial 
relations with them. His motivation was twofold: to increase the 
wealth of Japan and to forestall Russian expansion. As Professor John 
Whitney Hall has pointed out in bis excellent study of this era, "the 
Tanuma period thus offers us the prospect that Japan might have 
abandoned her seclusion policy voluntarily over a half century before 
she was eventually forced to do so." 2 

Tanuma's view of Russia's advance as a welcome opportunity rather 
than a threat, was shared by others. Kudo Heisuke, a Sendai physi- 
cian for example, submitted to Tanuma the noted essay Akaezo 
fusetsu ko (A Study of Red Ainu [i.e. Russian] Reports), in which 
he attributed to the Russians primarily commercial designs. To be 
sure he advocated the development and colonization of Hokkaido 
to forestall Russian expansion, but he laid much greater stress on 
the economic benefits that would accrue from such action. Soft- 
pedallin- any political implications, Kudo advocated the granting of 
commercial rights to Russia as a means of developing Japan's north- 
ern regions and of breaking the economically undesirable commercial 
monopoly of the Dutch. 3 This position was not as radical as may 
appear at first glance. In a sense it was not much more than a plea 
for the legalization of a situation that already existed, since a flourish- 
ing secret trade was actually carried on in the north/ What Kudo 
suggested was that the government cash in on the profits of thts trade. 

.Ramming, Reisen, 6 7 - 7 o; John Whitney Hail, Tanuma Okitsugu, 8 3 -8 4 , 88-89; 
Keene, 17. 

3 John A 3 Harrison, Japan's Northern Frontier, i 7 ; Otomo Kisaku, Tai-Ro kokubo no 
ransho 1-23; Hokkaido-shi, 11, 281-283. 

4 Notwithstanding the meeting of 1779, at which the Russians were directed to Naga- 
saki, they and various Japanese merchants seem to have contrived to do business in the 



The northern regions were still in the hands of the Lord of 
Matsumae, who was exempt from the usual supervision and control 
of the Shogunate. Matsumae clansmen had established themselves at 
Akkeshi in the first half of the seventeenth century, in Kiitappu (the 
Nemuro region) in 1701, and on Kunashiri Island in 1754, trading 
not only with the natives of these places, but also with Ainu, who 
came from Etorofu. Among the latter there were some who had 
hunted on Uruppu and on islands to the north; these brought word 
of the Russians. But the officials of the Matsumae clan were anxious 
to remain free from government interference and eager to keep for 
themselves whatever profits they might reap from the forbidden trade. 
They hesitated, therefore, to pass on to Edo reports that they them- 
selves received about Russian activities on the Kuril Islands. Such 
news could not be kept from the ears of the Shogunate indefinitely 
and the "warning" of Benyovszky, reinforced by Dutch reports about 
the Russian study of the Japanese language, conspired to focus the 
attention of the government on the northern regions, but, even then, 
not as urgently, as might be expected in retrospect. 

The Japanese population of Hokkaido was small (less than twenty- 
seven thousand in 1765) and was concentrated in the southwest; the 
number of warriors was a fraction thereof. There were some thirty 
thousand Ainu in the region, but their loyalty and military usefulness 
were uncertain. Aside from such considerations as inadequate com- 
munications, whether by land or by sea, the Matsumae clan did not 
have either the manpower or the finances to take sufficient defense 
measures of its own. It was therefore all the more reprehensible that 
it continued to withhold information of the Russian advances from 
the central government; on the other hand it appears that the latter 
was equally remiss in not conveying Benyovszky's "warning" to the 
Matsumae authorities. In the words of a modern Japanese historian, 
"to keep things secret was a bad habit of the time of high and low 
and one cannot blame solely Matsumae." The Shogunate itself did 
not really pay much heed to reports of the Russian advance, until 
private scholars became increasingly vociferous in their harangues 
regarding the Russian menace. 5 

northern regions. Needless to say, the illegality of the proceedings made secrecy neces- 
sary, and this secrecy makes it difficult to find reliable information on this subject. 
(Ebina, "Kaikoku-ron no ransho," 4: 375-377.) 

s Kono, 18-33; Hokkaido -shi, 11, 279-280. News of Russian activity was slow in reach- 
ing even the Matsumae authorities. Reports of Russian hunting on Uruppu in 1768 



An inquiry concerning conditions in the north, which the govern- 
ment directed to Matsumae, after studying Kudo's memorial, evoked 
such vague and evidently evasive response that the Shogunate, in 
1785, sent out a large expedition to investigate Ezo, the Kurils, and 
Sakhalin at first hand. Though the Matsumae officials and contractors 
sabotaged the efforts of the expedition, threatening to kill the Ainu, 
if they told of the secret relations with Russia, the investigators 
established that the Japanese on Hokkaido traded with Manchuria 
and with Russia through the Ainu, that the Russians were in posses- 
sion of all the Kuril Islands north of Etorofu, and that they fre- 
quented the latter island to hunt and trade, often staying for the 
winter. The recommendations which grew out of this expedition, as 
presented to the Shogunate by Tanuma's Superintendent of Finance 
Matsumoto, did not support Kudo's proposal for the legalization of 
the secret trade; they urged its suppression on the grounds that 
Japanese demands could be satisfied at Nagasaki and that additional 
trade might once again turn the balance against Japan. Had Tanuma 
remained in power longer, it is conceivable that, notwithstanding 
this report, commercial relations with Russia might have been sanc- 
tioned eventually, but his displacement by Matsudaira Sadanobu in 
1786 spelled victory for conservatism and the enforcement, with re- 
newed vigor, of the seclusion policy. 6 

While news of the appearance of Russians in the north had not 
filled Tanuma and Kudo with apprehension, scholars of a more 
alarmist disposition soon took up their brush to agitate against the 
Russian menace— and, at the same time, against the Shogunate, which 
had neglected to take appropriate defense measures. Bv the end of 
the eighteenth century some of the advocates of national defense 
(which to them meant not only the construction of modern coastal 
fortifications and a navy, but also preventive colonization and terri- 
torial expansion) had become so outspoken, that their treatises — a 
whole body of defense literature— verged on what an American 
historian has characterized as "a condition of near hysteria." 7 

did not find their way to Matsumae until three years later. For a bibliographical de- 
scription of Japanese studies of "the Russian problem" (ranging from geographical 
data to questions of national defense), see Kaikoku Hyakunen Kinen Bunka Jigyo-kai, 

e Hall, 100-105, 141; Ramming, Reisen, 18-19; Kono, 668-669; Keene, 46-48. 

7 Harrison, Japan's Northern Frontier, 17. For a convenient compilation of this de- 
fense literature, see Otomo, Tai-Ro kokubo no ransho; see also Suematsu Yasukazu, 
Kinsei ni okeru hokuho mondai no shinten. 



Most prominent among the advocates of coastal defense was 
Hayashi (Rin) Shihei, the author of a study of Korea, Ezo, and the 
Liu Ch'iu islands and of Kaikoku Heidan (Military discussion re- 
garding a Maritime Nation), a work completed on the eve of the 
arrival of the Laxman expedition. In it Hayashi voiced fear and 
hatred concerning the motives of Benyovszky, warned against Rus- 
sian encroachment in the north, and, envisaging even the possibility 
of a Russian attack on Japan, developed the thesis that Japan's posi- 
tion as an island nation called for measures of defense unlike those 
of China, which still served as model for the Japanese officialdom, 
and, taking public issue with the shogunate's prohibition against the 
building of large vessels, advocated the construction of a navy. In 
themselves, Hayashi's views were not particularly objectionable to 
Tanuma's successor, Chief State Councillor Matsudaira Sadanobu, 
who himself became known as an ardent advocate of coastal defense. 
But the way in which Hayashi had taken his case to the public, rather 
than submitting it to the government through proper channels in 
the manner of Kudo, aroused the anger of the government and he 
was deprived of his liberty and effectively silenced. 8 Other writers, 
however, continued to advocate stronger defense measures. Nakai 
Riken, an influential historian, thought to immunize Japan from 
Russian encroachment by depriving Russia of the incentive of be- 
coming an immediate neighbor; it was his proposal to make Ezo, 
desolate and unattractive, a buffer state. But Habuto Seiyo and most 
other writers on this subject argued, as had Kudo, that Japan must 
firmly extend her sway to Ezo before the Russians did so, and advo- 
cated preventive colonization and expansion in the northwest as 
measures of defense. 9 Far reaching as some of these proposals were, 
they were more moderate in tone than Hayashi's had been, and 
though they were directed primarily against Russia, it was with less 
animosity than admiration that their authors spoke of the Russians. 
Often their warnings were garbed in poetic form: 

Hakodate no Guardians of Hakodate, 

Seki no fusemori Beware! 

Kokoro seyo This is not the kind of an age, 

Nami nomi yosuru When only waves wash ashore. 

Yo ni shi araneba. 10 (Mi to Rekko) 

s Keenc, 48-55; Novakovskii, 59-60; Pozdneev, 11, 3: 28-39. 
s Kuno, 11, 228-229. 

Pozdneev, n, 3: 54. 



The arrival of the Laxman expedition at the shores of Hokkaido 
gave added urgency to defense deliberations; at the same time, it 
forced on the Shogunate an immediate reconsideration of the seclu- 
sion policy and the necessity of some sort of decision. It is significant 
that Matsudaira did not reject Russian overtures outright; nor did 
he himself in his own mind apply the seclusion laws without ques- 
tion. Instead, Matsudaira carefully reviewed the circumstances under 
which the foreigners, who, like the Russians, had come, since the 
closing of the country, to request trade relations, had been turned 
away. He concluded that the rejection of the English, in 1674, and 
of the Portuguese, in 1685, was not a suitable precedent for deciding 
the Russian request, since the Russians had no afliliation with those, 
whose activities had precipitated the whole seclusion policy; since 
they seemed to follow a different and less aggressive brand of Chris- 
tianity and deserved a certain amount of gratitude for having brought 
back the Japanese castaways. His advisers were divided in counsel. 
One suggested that trade be permitted in the north; another that the 
castaways be accepted, but no further relations be entertained; a 
third that the Russians be directed to Nagasaki. It was this last advice 
that Matsudaira followed, after finding a parallel in the Laxman 
expedition and the embassy sent by the King of Cambodia in 1727, 
the Japanese at that time having refused the king's presents, but 
having granted to the expedition a permit for entering Nagasaki. The 
Cambodians had not followed up the permit; it so happened that 
Laxman did not take advantage of it either. No doubt Matsudaira 
was relieved, but this does not mean that the permit was no more 
than a face-saving rejection of Laxman. As an American scholar has 
pointed out, "it seems likely that had he sailed immediately to Naga- 
saki, an agreement might have been reached." 11 

Whatever the motivations of Matsudaira's issuance of the Nagasaki 
Permit may have been— whether or not he would have agreed to trade 
or whether he merely played for time— he awakened to the urgency 
of coastal defense and mapped out plans for the strengthening of 
seaboard regions on the ground that "an invasion of our frontiers by 
foreign barbarians can be expected at any moment." He stressed 
shogunate initiative, and the planning and supervision of national 
defense. Whenever local daimyo lacked funds for the maintenance 
of fortifications and troops, the government was to give the necessary 
assistance. He emphasized the importance of defenses at Shimoda, 

11 Keene, 65-66. 



gateway to Uraga and Shinagawa. He wanted the territories of the 
Nambu and Tsugaru clans, leading to the possessions of Matsumae, 
placed under central government control. There were an excessive 
number of officials in Nagasaki— why not transfer them to Nambu? 
Matsudaira Sadanobu stated that the guns for defenses must be of 
bronze. There was a bronze reservoir in Osaka. He suggested that it 
be replaced by one of stone, and the bronze melted and made into 
cannons. 12 Conscious of the dangers which lurked abroad and 
wishing to be reminded of them constantly, Matsudaira commis- 
sioned an artist to draw the picture of a foreign vessel, and himself 
inscribed this poetic warning: 

Kono fune no Not to forget 

Yoru cho koto wo Even for one moment of sleep 

Yume no ma mo That these vessels can come here, 

Wasurenu wa Is of utmost importance to the 
Yo no takara narikeri 13 world [Japan]. 

In 1793, the repatriated castaways Kodayu and Isokichi were 
interrogated by the Shogun's personal physician Katsuragawa Hoshu 
and by a number of other dignitaries, among them Matsudaira, in 
the presence of the Shogun, who deigned to peep at the proceedings 
from behind a bamboo curtain. Kodayu told of his reception by 
Catherine the Great. He recalled not only the numerous officials, who 
had crowded the palace halls, but also the court ladies, "white as 
snow," at whose sight he had become very shy, and how he had been 
led up to the Empress and had "licked" her hand, as she had gra- 
ciously offered him the tips of her fingers. Kodayu reported about 
life in Siberia and in Russia. He answered countless questions about 
fires in St. Petersburg, about oriant cannons, and about statues, clocks, 
camels, Christian worship, glass blowing, and several other important 
and unimportant matters. The interrogators drew out of Kodayu a 
more complete description of Russia than Japan possessed of any 
other country. When the castaways were asked about their attitude 
toward the Russians, in view of the fact that the Russians had saved 
their lives and had done so many things for them, the castaways 
admitted that they had no feeling of hostility toward the Russians. 
The officials wondered why the castaways had run the risk of execu- 
tion in seeking repatriation, but seemed satisfied with the apologetic 
explanation that they had wished to come back to their families and 

12 Okamoto, 1: 75-83. 

is Japanese scroll in the possession of the author; Pozdneev, 11, 3: 21. 



that they had not been able to adjust themselves to Russian food, 
climate, and language. Asked whether they had brought any message 
from Russia, they reported that an official had expressed the desire 
to take advantage of their repatriation to seek to establish commercial 
relations with Japan, but that he had added that Russia had no 
intention to impose such relations on fapan by force. Questioned 
about the extent of information in Russia about Japan, the castaways 
replied that the Russians knew "everything without exception," an 
assertion, which must have caused great concern. Whether it was the 
timeliness of these observations, or the good personal impression 
that Kodayu and Isokichi made, or just plain luck, they escaped the 
harsh treatment usually accorded to repatriates and, though they were 
not permitted to return to their native place, were authorized to 
send for their wives and live a life of relative peace and leisure on 
condition that they would not discuss what they had seen abroad 
without special permission. 11 The utter lack of hostility toward the 
Russians, indeed the gratitude and admiration, that permeated the 
testimony of the castaways was of importance in the shaping of 
Japanese attitude toward the Russians. Henceforth, Japanese fear 
of Russian encroachment was to be supplemented by respect for 
Russians in general and for Catherine the Great in particular. 15 

This mixture of fear and respect for Russia was voiced most 
forcefully by Honda Toshiaki, who had personally visited Sakhalin 
and the Kuril Islands. "In general, we may say that Japan is at a 
standstill while Russia is moving ahead," he wrote. "Because of our 
tendency towards ineptitude in all things, Russia has become master 
of standstill Japan's Kamchatka. The reason why the barbarians of 
islands east, south and west of Kamchatka all seem to be attracted 
like ants to the sweetness of the Russian system is that the Russians 
have made capital out of their experiences of struggle and toil during 
the past 1,500 years." Honda greatly admired Russian expansion and 
exhorted his countrymen to follow Russia's example. He advocated 
a new and aggressive foreign policy, with Russo-Japanese commercial 
relations as a cornerstone. Through this trade, to be conducted pri- 
marily on Etorofu and Kunashiri, Japan would acquire beneficial 
knowledge about Russia as well as profits, which could help pay 
for the colonization of Hokkaido, Sakhalin, and the Kuril Islands 

14 Ramming, Reisen, 32-44. According to another source, some of the castaways at 
least were permitted to return to their homes in Sendai. (Turkovskii, 210.) 

is Keene, 67-68. 



which he projected. Honda took issue with such defeatists as Nakai 
Chikuzan, who wanted Japanese activities in Ezo confined to trading 
posts which could readily be withdrawn in case of Russian 
advance without loss of face, and in 1792 submitted a definite 
recommendation for the settling of the island in order to contain 
Russian expansion, for the Russian advance, he maintained, con- 
fronted Japan with "an emergency within an emergency." Honda 
was convinced that in free competition between Russia and Japan 
for the control of the Kuril and Bonin Islands, as well as of Kam- 
chatka, Sakhalin, the Aleutians and North America, Japan was 
favored by her geographical position and would emerge victorious. 
He even made the startling proposal that the Japanese capital be 
moved from Edo to Kamchatka as the center of a far-flung empire. 
In short, his reaction to Russian expansion was the advocacy of 

The development of Karafuto [Sakhalin] is an urgent matter, especially 
because it concerns our frontiers. As the proverb says, "Finders, keepers." 
What sensible person would fail to give this matter his consideration? 
We must not let Karafuto slip through our fingers. . . . Once great cities 
spring up in Karafuto and Kamchatka, the momentum will carry on to 
the natural development of the islands to the south, and the growing 
prosperity of each of these places will raise the prestige of Edo to great 
heights. This, in turn, will naturally result in the acquisition of the 
American islands, which are Japan's possession manifestly. 

Above all, prompt action was of the essence. He wrote: 

The Russians were informed that they might visit Nagasaki and trade 
there and obtained documents of authorisation before they returned 
home, but they have yet to visit Nagasaki. This is presumably because 
their plans have been upset. 

Since, as I have written, the nature of their country is such that trans- 
port is most difficult, the Russians have not been able to do as much for 
the natives of Ezo as they wished. Now, while this remains true, is the time 
to take the islands back. If we plan secretly, we can make them Japanese 
Ezo islands, as they used to be. If these plans are put into effect, there 
is no doubt but that there will be two most prosperous and powerful 
countries in the world: Japan in the East and England in the West. 16 

There were other Japanese scholars and officials, who had toured 
the northern regions and returned to warn their countrymen against 
Russian infiltration and to advocate the preventive colonization of 

16 Ibid., 132-134, 148-149, 178, 223-224, 229. 



Hokkaido. Foremost among them were Hirazawa Kyokuzan, Mogami 
Tokunai, and Rondo Morishige. The latter had dramatized Japanese 
claims to the northern regions, when on a visit to Etorofu, in 1798, 
he had removed a cross and Russian-erected posters, claiming Russian 
suzerainty over the island, and had put up in their stead posts with 
the inscription "Japanese Etorofu." 17 Not the least interesting aspect 
of Japanese reaction to Russia, of early Japanese agitation lor defense 
measures against Russia, was the fact that the Russians were blissfully 
unaware of it, and that they did not realize that the Japanese could 
have any but amicable feelings toward them. Even after the raids 
of Khvostov and Davydov the Russians failed to be aware of the 
excitement and alarm, which they had aroused, and were quite 
unprepared for the reception that was to be accorded to Golovnin. 
When Rezanov arrived in 1804, the Japanese did not turn him 
away immediately, as they might well have done had there been no 
question in their mind about continued seclusion. Nor was their 
delay in replying to Rezanov's demands a deliberate policy of pro- 
crastination. The Japanese hesitated for so long, because they them- 
selves were not quite sure what measures were really most desirable, 
and spent much time and effort in serious deliberation. The fact that 
some of those, who were most alarmed at the threat of Russian ex- 
pansion, proposed to meet it by commercial agreement with Russia, 
no doubt complicated the issue. When the Nadezhda had arrived 
at Nagasaki, the local authorities had made every preparation to repel 
a Russian attack, indeed, were ready to take the initiative themselves 
should they be slighted in any way. But the shogun, who himself is 
said to have favored the reception of the envoy, commanded that 
the Russians be treated as peacefully and hospitably as possible, and 
Japanese military measures were relaxed and a doctor put at Reza- 
nov's disposal, though Russian movements continued to be highly 

restricted. 18 

In the capital, meanwhile, the great debate raged for months. 
Matsudaira Sadanobu, who was no longer in power, now favored 
dealing with the Russians; so did many other persons of importance. 
Shiba Kokan had come out in favor of trade. "Is rice not abundant 
and cheap and is this not a great drawback for the Samurai class?" 
he asked. "Is it not natural that the Russians should be allowed to 

17 Pozdneev, n, 3:58-60; Kuno, 11, 227-237; E. Papinot, Historical and Geographical 
Dictionary of Japan, 305-306. 

isVoenskii (October), 234-235; Novakovskii, 88-89; Langsdorff, 294. 



trade in order to prepare an outlet for this surplus of grain and also 
to develop Ezo? And Christianity? It is so apparently dangerous, 
and besides it is forbidden by [Tokugawa] Ieyasu. Nobody will em- 
brace these doctrines." "Indeed," he concluded, "Sadanobu refus- 
ing the Russians in 1792, knew the classics but not geography." 19 
Others advised moderation. Aoki Okikatsu, for example, though he 
dreaded foreign intercourse, felt that Rezanov should not be turned 
down flatly, but that a promise of trade fifty years hence should be 
held out to him, a suggestion almost prophetic in calculation, since 
Japan's first treaty with a Western power was to be signed in 1854. 
Even the imperial court, it seems, was asked for advice and the rum- 
blings of its opposition allegedly turned the balance of argument 
against Rezanov and foreshadowed the struggle for the restoration 
of imperial power in years to come. 20 

When the Shogunate finally decided to continue the seclusion policy 
unchanged, there were many outspoken protests, and the accusation 
was made that the treatment of Rezanov had been disgraceful. 21 Shiba 
Kokan noted: "Japan has shown serious lack of etiquette as though 
people would carelessly pull off their clothes before a correctly dressed 
gentleman." 22 And again: "The Russians must think that we are ani- 
mals." 23 The fact that delay in the acceptance of the castaways had 
caused the suicide attempt of one, added fuel to the criticisms. 

The ultimate Japanese decision had been reached less by reference 
to tradition and to unalterable laws, than by the feeling that such 
trade might not really be profitable and by the fear that, in any case, 
it might not be possible to confine dealings to trade, but that the 
Russians would eventually make territorial demands and seek to 
spread their heretical religion. Above all, the officials feared that the 
Russians would subvert the loyalty of the common people to the sho- 
gunate. 24 Even so, the decision was not necessarily an expression of 
Russophobia. Paradoxical as it may seem, Japanese suspicions of Rus- 
sian designs did not displace Japanese respect and, at times, Japanese 
admiration for the Russians, the testimony of group after group of 
repatriated castaways dispelling more and more the prejudiced con- 

19 J. Feenstra Kuiper, "Some Notes on the Foreign Relations of Japan in the Early 
Napoleonic Period," 61-62. 

20 Voensldi (October), 234-235. 

21 Krusenstern, 1, 346-347. 

22 Kuiper, 76. 
23Keene, 68. 

24Pozdneev, 11, 2:115; Novakovskii, 92-93. 



ception of the Russians as "barbarians." Clearly as the Japanese saw 
that the repatriation of the castaways was executed by the Russians 
not without ulterior motives, there is evidence that they felt a deep 
appreciation for the fine treatment accorded to their unfortunate 
countrymen, an appreciation that, in many instances, was kept alive 
down into the second half of the nineteenth century, when many Jap- 
anese expressed outspoken Russophile views. As Professor Ramming 
writes in reviewing the attitude of the Japanese towards Russia at 
the time of Rezanov's rejection: "It is noteworthy that Russia at that 
time enjoyed a very good reputation in Japan and was truly popular, 
in spite of the writings of Rin [Hayashi] Shihei, Kudo Heisuke and 
other authors who concerned themselves with the northern problems 
and warned of the new dangerous neighbor. Above all things one 
said to oneself, that Russia was a very large, powerful state, which 
had already twice sent embassies to Japan and had repatriated ship- 
wrecked Japanese. It was emphasized also, that like Japan it was an 
empire, as contrasted with the United States of America of which, 
precisely for this reason, one was of not very high opinion." 25 

The customary interrogation of the newly repatriated castaways 
corroborated the observations conveyed by Kodayu and Isokichi in 
1793; it added to Japanese knowledge of Russia and yielded addi- 
tional information about other remote areas, for Gihei and his com- 
panions had voyaged around the world: cast from the shores of 
Japan to the Aleutian Islands, and taken to Siberia and European 
Russia, they had been carried back to their homeland via Europe, 
South America, North America, and Kamchatka. Like Kodayu, they 
praised Russian hospitality. They had been received by Tsar Alex- 
ander I, had been shown the sights of the capital, had been taken 
to the theater, had been wined and dined — in short, had been treated 
as guests of honor. If there was any bitterness in their hearts as they 
trampled on Christian images as proof of their loyalty to the faith 
of their fathers and were repaid for their patriotism by being con- 
fined in jail, it was directed at their countrymen, who had elected 
to remain in Russia. In 1806 the castaways were moved to Sendai 
and there questioned repeatedly in great detail for over two months. 
Thanks to their power of observation and to the skill and thorough- 
ness of their inquisitors, notably Otsuki Gentaku, who checked their 
statements against Dutch books and sought amplification and verifi- 
cation from Kodayu, a lengthy and valuable account of their ex- 

^s Ramming, Reiseti, 75-78. 



periences in Russia, entitled Kankai ibun (Seagirt Tales), was com- 
piled, an account which covered every conceivable aspect of Russian 
life from medicine, military science, and baking to geography, sex, 
and balloon ascents, and compared favorably with most contemporary 
European books on Japan. 20 

The attacks of Khvostov and Davydov jarred the Shogunate into 
action. Always eager to preserve domestic tranquility, the govern- 
ment had tried in years past lo tone down or silence alarmist writers, 
but now their warnings were remembered and echoed manifold. 
The heretofore lukewarm interest of the Shogunate in the northern 
regions was suddenly moved to action. As early as 1798, the Shogunate 
had assumed direct responsibility for the Ezo territory; not until 
now, however, had it truly taken over the administration of the 
northern regions. 27 Troops were dispatched to strategic points on 
Hokkaido, reinforcements were sent to Etorofu, and hasty defense 
preparations were made along the northern shores of the main island. 
Simultaneously Japanese treatment of the Ainu was noticeably 
ameliorated to forestall native support of the Russians. 28 At first 
there was considerable confusion, and fantastic rumors of hundreds 
of Russian attackers, eleven or twelve feet tall, spread across the 
country. 29 But the government promptly clamped down on any dis- 
cussion of the raids and on the whole took swift and energetic meas- 
ures of defense. Where Hayashi Shihei had failed, Khvostov and 
Davydov succeeded in convincing the Shogunate dramatically of the 
need of modern weapons and techniques, and thereby actually con- 
tributed to the eventual opening of the country. Painfully aware 
how limited its knowledge of Russia was, in spite of the eyewitness 
reports of the castaways, the government ordered the Dutch to translate 

zsibid., 58-66; Umemori, 34-39, 47. Several volumes long in manuscript form, the 
account as relayed by Umemori yet extends to over three hundred printed pages. 

27 Harrison, Japan's Northern Frontier, 22-24; Golovnin, Zapiski, 11, 66; Alfons Schein- 
pHug, Die Japanische Kolonisation in Hokkaido, 39-40. 

28 Lovtsov had made a special point of Ainu dissatisfaction with Japanese rule in 
his report to Pil in January of 1793. Writing that the Japanese regarded the native 
inhabitants of the 19th, 20th, 21st and 22nd Kuril Islands as Japanese subjects, he 
noted that they had aroused their antagonism by demanding excessive labor and utter 
submission, antagonism which the Ainu conveyed to the Russians by expressive gestures 
as they secretly visited them at night. (Polonskii, 540.) Years later, in 1855, when renewed 
Russian pressure necessitated further amelioration in the treatment accorded to the 
Ainu, the rules of the Matsumae clan were reformed to forbid the making of Ainu 
women into concubines. The Ainu were permitted to use straw raincoats, basket-shaped 
hats, and straw sandals, and were permitted to study Japanese. It was forbidden to 
set fire to the houses of deceased persons, to tatoo lips and ears, and to receive bribes 
from foreigners. (Umemori, 27.) 

29 Aston, 84. 



books on Russia into Japanese, and sent out explorers to the northern 
territories. Thus in 1808, Matsuda Denjiro and Mamiya Rinzo ex- 
plored Sakhalin and discovered that it was an island, Tatar Strait 
being known to the Japanese as Rinzo Kaikyo. The following year, 
in 1809, Mamiya crossed over to the continent into Manchuria and 
penetrated as far as the Manchu-Chinese government outpost of 
Delen on the lower Amur, before returning to Edo and making a 
full report. 30 

The Shogunate meanwhile continued to deliberate on a policy 
toward Russia. Should peace be bought by concessions or should 
Japan fight in defense of the closed door, for, according to the proc- 
lamation left by Khvostov, Russia seemed determined to force the 
issue. After patient reflection, the government decided to resort to 
arms, as the majority had counseled, but even then it left room for 
a change in policy with a change in conditions. 31 

Many military suggestions and proposals were submitted to the Sho- 
gunate. Many plans were drafted by strategists for their own guid- 
ance. Matsudaira Sadanobu, for example, set down his "General 
Thoughts Concerning Coastal Defense" in a paper, which carried 
the notation: "this document is for my own use only and under no 
circumstances can be shown to anyone else." In this paper Matsudaira 
spoke highly of Western military planning and stressed the need 
of providing Edo with suitable defenses. He warned: 

People who conceive of the coming of the enemy only in the same 
manner as before, because they have no other plans or ideas in their 
heads, will lose all self-control upon seeing suddenly the whole surface 
of the water covered with enemy vessels and will become panicky. Con- 
fused, they will forget the whole plan of action, not even thinking how 
much dishonor they will bring to their country. If on the other hand, 
the possibility of the arrival of an enemy fleet of more than a hundred 
vessels will be kept in mind, in the event that only ten vessels will come 
one will not be able to help thinking that the enemy is weak and can 
be overcome without any trouble. The roles of host and guest will then 
have changed completely and it will not be difficult to expel the latter. 
It is the more so if only one or two vessels of the type used by the 
pirates will appear. In that case we shall beat them with just the oars. 
I do not think, however, that we can instruct two daimyo houses to build 
defenses against some small robbers. 

30 Harrison, Japan's Northern Frontier, 27; Pozdneev, 11, 3 :8 7"95; Siebold, 11, 1235; 
Motoyama, 63-75. A translation of Mamiya's account of his voyage to Hokkaido and 
of life and conditions on that island, may be found in John A. Harrison, "Kita Yezo 
Zusetsu," 93-117. 

31 Pozdneev, 11, 3: 233-234. 




I do not know your plans, but 1 think it would be extremely deplor- 
able if it were learned in foreign countries that the entrance into our 
capital remains without defenses. In my humble opinion a solid and 
striking arming of the fortifications will serve not only to keep the enemy 
in check but also to maintain the prestige of our country. 32 

Specifying the type of artillery emplacements and fortifications 
that he thought necessary, Matsudaira criticized some of the pro- 
posals, which had been advanced by others, not only from the stand- 
point of military strategy, but also of honor. Thus he took exception 
to the proposal that hidden fortifications be constructed, camou- 
flaged as poor houses, and that one should remain in them, wait for 
the enemy to land, and then suddenly make a close-quarter attack. 
Matsudaira stated that this was a particularly bad proposal, because, 
though every daimyo might in practice employ such tactics in de- 
fense of his domain, it was impossible to suggest such stratagem as 
a system of national defense. There might be some individual cases 
of valor, he admitted, but the point was that, with such a system 
of poor houses, the enemy would pass them by in the open sea, ap- 
proach a convenient point, and from there open fire. When the 
hidden batteries would not reply, the Japanese would have no argu- 
ments in their defense. The defenders of a large fort might say that 
they did not fire because the enemy, out of cowardice, was too far 
away. This would be different, because it would not lower Japanese 
prestige. But most important, if the enemy were to come in a few 
dozen ships, were to enter the bay, go upstream into the interior of 
the country, and land openly, not like some gang of robbers, it 
would be impossible to fire at him from the poor houses, as they 
would be equipped only for a camouflaged surprise attack. If they 
were to open fire, the enemy would return to his ships, form a line, 
and engage in a real battle from his war vessels against the unfortified 
Japanese positions. Correct warfare did not permit, expostulated 
Matsudaira, that somebody interested in his own exploits would 
dress like a beggar or a simple soldier and, mixing with the people, 
would await secretly the arrival of the enemy. A good enemy, paying 
no heed whatsoever to some poor wretched beggars, will concentrate 
his force on something better and will therefore go after him, who 
resembles a general. If someone, scared of a person with military 
bearing resembling a general, were to dress like a beggar and ap- 
proaching the latter were to surprise him with a death blow, he 

ssOkamoto, 83-87. 



would not gain anybody's approval. If a good enemy himself were to 
pursue a person resembling a general, paying no heed to the beg- 
gars, and were to be surprised at that time by the person who had 
changed his clothes, how would the latter be able to clear himself of 
the suspicion of having changed to avoid danger? Matsudaira ob- 
served that, because of the lasting peace in Japan, people tended to 
think that other countries too lived in peace, that they used their 
guns only to shoot birds and animals, that they were afraid of large 
cannons, and knew nothing of the art of gunnery. He warned that 
plans, made according to such fantasies, bring the most ludicrous 
results; in reality wars never cease in the foreign countries, and 
people are well versed in military matters, and know very well how far 
a shot will carry. Matsudaira pointed to the importance of knowing 
one's enemy intimately- and stressed the need of offensive power. 
Noting that many ships would be necessary to capture the Russian 
capital, he called for suitable preparation of ships and men; at the 
same time he envisaged the possibility of a small suicide attack. 33 

Hirayama Kozo, a samurai, who patterned his life after the exacting 
and frugal demands of the battlefield — rising at 4 a. m. to do his 
military exercises, boiling unwashed rice, and receiving no women in 
his house — gave vent to his outrage at the murderous forays of the 
Russian "barbarians" in a memorial to the government. "How dare 
they!" was the tenor of his approach. "Though I, Hisomu, am not 
a man of ability, I gnash my teeth and blush with anger, and unable 
to restrain myself wish to depart for the north to the sea, in advance 
of the large army and sacrifice my life there. . . ." Falling back on 
the traditional Chinese concept of fighting barbarians with bar- 
barians, Hirayama proposed the employment of Japanese criminals 
in repelling the Russians, and requested permission to recruit an 
army of daredevil thieves, gamblers, and cutthroats. "The wild 
boars attack and the wolves flee," he philosophized. Hirayama pointed 
out how insignificant, in scope and ambition, the raids of Khvostov 
and Davydov were in comparison with the Mongol invasions, which 
Japan had weathered in the thirteenth century. A relatively small 
force would suffice to protect Japan, if only the initiative were 
wrested from the Russians. He envisaged "flying squadrons" that 
would attack the raiders unexpectedly the moment they set foot on 
land. "It is necessary to be as fast as the wind and as determined as 

33 Ibid, 



the thunder," he exhorted, and solemnly swore that he would not 
live under one heaven with these robbers.' 54 

Not all Japanese were equally enraged by the Russian raids. It 
will be recalled that quite a few had taken issue with the treatment 
of Rezanov and, when news of Rezanov's death reached Japan, the 
rumor spread that he had committed suicide because of the way he 
had been insulted by the Japanese; 35 others, who did not know of his 
death, agreed that Russia had lost face. Thus there were some, who 
found justification in their own feudal values for the vengeful at- 
tacks of Khvostov and Davydov, and recommended that Russian de- 
mands for trade be accepted. Arguments were advanced that trade 
with Russia would be beneficial in its own right and, if necessary, 
might be substituted for trade with China; that trade would be a 
cheaper and safer way of halting the Russian advance than war; 
and that permission to trade could be granted on condition that the 
Russians hand back the Ezo Islands of which they had taken pos- 
session. But the advocates of firm resistance persisted in their view, 
convinced that trade was but a stepping-stone for more sinister 
foreign designs, and that the Western powers would not rest satis- 
fied, until they had swallowed up the whole of Japan. 

This cleavage in Japanese opinion was aggravated by the reluc- 
tance of many officials to take an unequivocal stand and by the ten- 
dency to play it safe, by trying to agree with everyone. The expert 
advice of the Matsumae Governors Kawajiri Jingoro, Lord of Higo, 
and Arao Shigeaki, Lord of Tajima, as embodied in a memorandum 
presented to the Shogunate, in 1807, was more notable for its skill- 
ful evasion of straightforward advice than for its careful considera- 
tion of every strategic contingency. Thus the governors considered 
the time equally propitious for military measures or for trade. They 
warned that, if trade were decided upon, defense measures must not 
be neglected, since Russia boasted of a history of territorial expan- 
sion; at the same time they expressed the view that, dangerous as 
Russian proximity might be, Russian actions would not be shaped 
exclusively by naked power, but would be formulated in response 
to Japanese measures, and that utmost caution and sincerity must 
be used in relations with the Russians, to avoid giving the latter 
cause for attack. They concluded that the exclusive concentration on 

34 Pozdneev, n, 3: 234-239. 

35 D. C. Greene, "Osada's Life of Takano Nagahide," 429. 



defense was as insufficient as the exclusive concentration on peace in 
insuring lasting peace, that defense measures and peace measures 
both led to the same goal and were equally important. When, after 
careful study of this document, the officials in Edo thought they per- 
ceived a leaning toward peace and trade on the part of the Matsumae 
governors and asked them to clarify their position Kawajiri and 
Arao, in a second memorandum, presented in 1808, assiduously tried 
to clear themselves of the implication that they were "soft" toward 
Russia, and wrote that trade must be permitted only after a show 
of Japanese force and after the receipt of a Russian apology for the 
raids on Japanese territory, and declared that, they themselves had 
taken steps to thwart further Russian aggression. But, though they 
remarked that it was their understanding that the Russians had been 
informed in Nagasaki that foreign trade was counter to national 
laws and though they stated that this declaration could not be taken 
back now, they advanced the argument that, if the Russians, from 
their distant regions, came to some territory bordering Matsumae, 
they deserved special consideration and that, if an exception to the 
national laws forbidding trade were made in their case, they would 
undoubtedly feel very grateful toward Japan. The governors fore- 
saw the danger that one concession might lead to the demand for 
more concessions, but thought that trade could be limited in scope 
and region. After various mental gymnastics concerning the pros 
and cons of demanding a Russian apology, Kawajiri and Arao ad- 
dressed themselves to the question of war with Russia in remark- 
ably frank language. They stated that, brave as it sounded to main- 
tain that the Russians were not worth fearing and should be chased 
away, the fact remained that such action would entail great sacrifice 
in Japanese lives and that insufficient study had as yet been devoted 
to the whole question. They warned of the severe strain that war 
would place on the economic resources of Japan and sketched a 
harrowing picture of the sufferings the people of Japan would have 
to endure, hinting at the possibility of an internal revolt. If, upon 
due deliberation, military measures were to be judged desirable, 
they would, of course, drive away the Russians and even carry the 
war to their own country, but, for the present, they felt that if the 
Russians were to ask for forgiveness, they should be forgiven, if they 
renewed their attacks they should be met with force. After a final plea 



for further deliberation for the sake of future generations, and, with 
an eye to the approbation of Heaven and of foreign countries, the 
governors reiterated their zealousness and concluded with the profuse 
apology that their outspokenness, without regard to position and 
rank, had been so rude that not even the death penalty would be 
sufficient punishment for them. 

Typically, the Tokugawa statesmen were often less concerned 
about the foreign threat per se, than about the influence Russian 
raids might have on public opinion. To give in to threats would be 
a confession of weakness that could well have internal political re- 
percussions. As it was, the government was not certain of the loyalty 
of all its subjects, fearing not only Ainu and banished criminals and 
political exiles, but unemployed samurai, who, unable to earn a 
living in peacefully secluded Japan, might deal with the Russians 
to the extent of betraying the secrets of their country. 

The Shogunate had no ready plan of action. There was the ten- 
dency to continue to proclaim publicly that the Russians must be 
chased away, while realizing privately that trade relations would 
have to be sanctioned sooner or later. But the Russians had left word 
that they would come to Sakhalin and Etorofu for an answer to their 
demands, and the ministers found it necessary to draft a joint reply. 
They wrote that they could not agree to the Russian request for 
trade, because they had never before traded with Russia, and be- 
cause they could not have commercial relations with a country that 
not only had attacked their territories, but threatened to renew the 
attacks if its demands were not heeded. They declared that, if the 
Russians should send many ships, they would take appropriate meas- 
ures of their own and fight. If on the other hand, the Russians truly 
desired trade, they must first seek to make up for what they had done 
and return all the Japanese, who had been taken prisoner; only 
after that could there be any question of trade. The ministers prom- 
ised to send word to Sakhalin the following year whether or not 
trade would be possible. They concluded that, if the Russians had 
no bad intentions, they must immediately leave Japanese territory 
and return to Russia; nothing good could come of new misunder- 
standings. "If further disturbances should occur," they warned, 
"trade will of course be completely out of the question." The letter 
was given to the governor of Matsumae, but not until the arrival of 
Golovnin was there an opportunity to transmit the letter, and by 



that tunc more effective pressure could be brought to bear on the 
Russians. !,i 

Diverse and contradictory as the many proposals of Japanese of- 
ficials and intellectuals may have been, acrimonious as the great de- 
bate often became, there was argument only about means; there was 
complete unanimity as to the objective: the preservation and strength- 
ening of Japan. Sugita Gempaku might take issue with Hirayama's 
insistence on direct action and advocate trade with Russia, but he 
did so essentially because he believed that Japan, in consequence of 
protracted peace, would be unable to wage war successfully and con- 
cluded that the establishment of commercial relations with Russia 
would give Japan the necessary time and opportunity to develop 
the sinews of war. Whatever their position, Japanese spokesmen radi- 
ated a strong patriotism, unmatched in any other part of Asia. 37 
Anxious as Kawajiri and Arao seem to have been to avoid war with 
Russia, they warned the shogunate that "if the country devotes her- 
self exclusively to coastal defense, she will never be able to defend 
herself successfully" and expounded that "our defense will never be 
lasting, unless we ourselves carry out an attack on their [Russian] 
distant territories with our warships." !8 When Golovnin was informed 
later by the Japanese that they had given thought to carrying out a 
naval attack on Okhotsk, he laughed in their face. Unfortunately, 
Russian readers of Golovnin's memoirs were to remember his lauo-h- 
ter and not the Japanese determination, in case of war, to strike 
directly at Russia. 


In the summer of 181 1, the Russian sloop-of-war Diana approached 
the northern possessions of Japan. Her purpose was not to resume 
the fruitless negotiations of Rezanov, but merely to replenish sup- 
plies and to continue without delay its exploration of these little 
known waters. 

The Diana had left Kronstadt on a round-the-world expedition 
in 1807, but the break between Russia and England, precipitated 
by Alexander I's agreement with Napoleon at Tilsit, had led to her 
detention at the Cape of Good Hope, even though she had English 
papers authorizing free sailing. One night at last, the Diana had 

36 Pozdneev, 11, 3:241-260. 

37 Kuno, 11, 232-233; Suematsu, 317. 

38 Pozdneev, n, 3:271. 



succeeded in slipping out of Simon's Bay, and, late in 1809, had 
reached Kamchatka, remaining in adjacent waters for two winters, 
except for a voyage to the Russian colonies in America with desper- 
ately needed supplies. In the spring of 1811, the Diana had received 
orders to make a thorough survey of the southern Kuril Islands, the 
Shantar Islands, and the coast of Tatary from latitude 53 ° 28' N. to 
Okhotsk, the reports of earlier explorers, such as Gore, LaPerouse, 
Gavriil Sarychev, Broughton, and Krusenstern, being as yet neither 
complete nor wholly accurate. On May 7, the Diana had started 
through the chopped ice of Petropavlovsk Harbor into the Bay of 
Avachinsk, and, on May 16, had set forth on its mission, exploring 
the Kuril Islands Rashowa, Ushishiru, Ketoi, Shimushiru, and two 
Chirpoi Islands, Makantor, and the western part of Uruppu. 39 

Lieutenant Commander Vasilii Golovnin, who captained the 
Diana, had read volume one of Krusenstern's work and knew, there- 
fore, that the Japanese government had forbidden any Russian ves- 
sel to draw near the shores of Japan. He was acquainted also with 
the raids of Khvostov and, though he felt that they had been so 
obviously unauthorized "that the Japanese have not the least cause 
to believe that such an attack on them by two insignificant vessels 
could be made at the wish of the monarch of a great and powerful 
state, of the intent and might of which they must have had a clear 
understanding from the description of their countrymen who had 
lived for several years in Russia," 40 he decided to avoid any contact 
with the Japanese. He even planned not to display his country's flag, 
when sailing past the islands under Japanese control, so as not to 
arouse fear or apprehension. But all his precautions notwithstanding, 
Golovnin suddenly found himself face to face with the Japanese. 

It happened on June 29, when the Diana was close to the western 
shore of northern Etorofu. Shana Bay, which lay before the Russians, 
extended so deep inland as to resemble a strait, and misled Golovnin 
into believing that he was at another island. The map of Broughton 
had left this part of the coastline indefinite, and Golovnin drew 
nearer in order to complete the description. People, whom he saw 
running back and forth on shore, he supposed to be Ainu, and dis- 
patched Ensign Fedor Mur and Assistant Navigator Vasilii Novitskii 
on an armed boat to question them about the island and other mat- 

39 Golovnin, 1:1-10; Sgibnev, "Popytki," 61. Golovnin refers to some of the islands 
by number. For his order of numbering, see map of the Kuril Archipelago. 

40 Golovnin, Zapiski, 1: 12-13. 



tersr of interest. As a large boat came out to meet the Russian craft, 
Golovnin moved the Diana closer to shore and himself hastened, 
with Ensign Vsevolod lakushkin on an armed boat, in support of 
Mur and Novitskii. Meanwhile, the boat from shore had met the 
latter without hostility and, turning about, had escorted them to the 
island. When Golovnin followed ashore, he was surprised to find Mur 
in conversation with some Japanese. 

Golovnin learned that Ainu from Rashowa, one of the Kuril Islands 
in the Russian domain, had come to this island the previous year, 
and, having been confined by the Japanese, were about to be re- 
leased. Allegedly they had been driven there by bad weather, though 
actually, as they admitted inadvertently later on, they had come to 
trade with the Japanese. With the help of these Ainu, who knew a 
little Russian, and of a Japanese, who spoke the tongue of the Ainu, 
Golovnin was able to communicate with a Japanese officer, whom he 
saw standing on shore, surrounded by eighteen or twenty warriors 
in armor, carrying swords and muskets. Ishizaka Kihei, the Japanese 
officer, inquired why the Russians had come and whether their in- 
tentions were good or bad, adding that if trade was their purpose, 
they should continue down along the shore to Urbitch, 41 the main 
settlement. Golovnin replied that they had come in search of a safe 
harbor, where they could replenish their dwindling supply of fresh 
water and firewood, and having done this, they would depart with- 
out delay. This was not the whole story, of course, but Golovnin 
felt that it was impossible to disclose the true reason for their ar- 
rival. "Such a people cannot imagine, what business it is of a foreign 
country to send vessels for the description of alien lands from curios- 
ity alone, without any other intention. They would have become 
suspicious at once." 42 By telling the Japanese that he was looking 
for a convenient harbor to take on needed supplies, he produced a 
plausible pretext for sailing along the shores of their islands and 
surveying them. 

Golovnin assured Ishizaka that the Diana had come without hostile 
intent and backed this up with the curious, yet characteristic argu- 
ment that the Japanese had nothing to fear because the Diana was 

41 Professor I. P. Magidovich, editor of Vasilii Mikhailovich Golovnin, Sochineniia 
suggests that "Urbitch" was the settlement Rubetsu on the western shore of Etc-ofu. 
(267, note 11.) Japanese historians, on the other hand, identify "Urbitch" as Furubetsu, 
a place somewhat farther west. (Hiraoka, Nichi-Ro, 247-248; Akaba Sozo, "Gorouin 
seikin no jokyo." 22:42; "Gorouin to Ishizaka Buhei," 9: 18.) 

12 Golovnin, Zapiski, 1: 14-16, 22. 



not a merchantship, but an imperial naval vessel. Ishizaka was not 
convinced, however, and, referring to the raids of Khvostov and 
Davydov, replied that the Japanese had ample reason to fear the 
arrival of another Russian vessel. Golovnin countered that these at- 
tacks had not been authorized, assuring Ishizaka Uiat, if the Emperor 
of such a mighty country as Russia would have desired war with 
Japan, he would not have confined himself to sending two little 
vessels, but would have sent many, and would have continued send- 
ing them until his demands would have been met. The foraging 
crafts had been merchantships commanded by traders and hunters 
and not by naval officers; their commanders had been duly punished 
for the wanton raids, a fact which was evidenced by the discontin- 
uance of the raids in spite of their success. Ishizaka seemed satisfied 
and offered to give Golovnin a letter to the commander of Urbitch, 
where water, firewood, and provisions could be obtained. Mean- 
while he himself gave the Russians some fresh fish, moztagon roots, 
and buckram in exchange for Russian gifts. As sake and French 
brandy flowed, their spirits rose and Golovnin even visited the Jap- 
anese tent. 

Uncertain of the disposition of the Japanese, Golovnin hastened 
back aboard ship before dark. On shore the Ainu had warned him 
that the Japanese mistrusted the motives behind his arrival. Later, 
when the Ainu came aboard the Diana with the letter to Urbitch, 
promised by Ishizaka, they repeated that the Japanese, though the 
letter allegedly stated that the Russians had come with friendly in- 
tentions, expected no better from Golovnin than from Khvostov 
and had sent their personal possessions to the interior. 43 

On June 30, the Diana crossed over from Etorofu to the east coast 
of Uruppu with the intention of returning to Urbitch later. After 
three days of observations at the coast of Uruppu, the Russians sailed 
southward along the eastern shore of the island, increasing the fear 
of the Ainu Aleksei Maksimovich, who had agreed to accompany 
them as guide, that the regular drill and gunnery practice of the crew 
were a prelude to hostilities with the Japanese. 

From his talks with the "Russian" Ainu, Golovnin gathered in- 
formation concerning trade with the Japanese. He learned, for ex- 
ample, that, until the raids of Khvostov and Davydov, there had been 
"steady and regular" trade between the "Russian" Ainu and the 

43 Ibid., 1: 15-20; Akaba, "Gorouin," 18: 233-235; 9: 18-22. 



Japanese "such as would have been established by the publie aets 
of two countries, and perhaps with still better order and with greater 
honesty.'' From Aleksei Golovnin heard of a safe harbor and forti- 
fied settlement on the southern shore of Kunashiri, where the neces- 
sary supplies might be obtained. He decided, therefore, to skip 
Urbitch and head directly to Kunashiri, espeeially because he wanted 
to explore this harbor as well as the strait, which separated Kunashiri 
from Hokkaido, and was practically unknown to European navi- 
gators. The discovery, in the hold, of considerable rat damage to 
foodstuffs at the top, made the condition of supplies underneath un- 
certain and a thorough examination and possible replenishment 

Not until July 16, did weather permit the Diana to enter the 
strait. There it cast anchor overnight in order not to arouse undue 
alarm among the Japanese. Even then, large fires at the two capes 
reflected the apprehension of the Japanese, and on the morning of 
the seventeenth, as the Diana sailed into the harbor, two shots were 
fired, but fell short of their mark. A heavy fog descended on Rus- 
sians and Japanese alike, and for a while the vessel was forced to 
lie at anchor. When the Russians continued to approach the fortress, 
the Japanese held their fire, even though the boat, which preceded 
the Diana to sound the depth, had come within range of their guns. 
The fortress, as usual, was hidden from Russian eyes by a striped 
curtain, interrupted in places by crudely painted embrasures of fake 
batteries. Only the several buildings, which stood on the hill-slope, 
remained exposed. 

The Diana cast anchor about a mile and a half from the fortress, 
and Golovnin headed toward shore with Vasilii Srednii, the Ainu, 
and four oarsmen. They were within about three hundred and fifty 
feet from land, when the Japanese suddenly opened up with cannon 
fire from different parts of the fortress. Turning about, the Russians 
rowed for their lives, barely escaping the cannonade, which pursued 
them to their ship. Even, when Golovnin and those, who had hastened 
to his aid on armed boats, withdrew aboard the Diana, the Japanese 
batteries sustained their fire. Such an attack by the Japanese on a 
small boat with seven men, who had approached the shore without 
subterfuge, seemed dishonorable and barbaric to Golovnin but, 
though the thought of revenge crossed his mind, he chose to make 
another attempt to communicate with the Japanese and drew back 
from the fortress. 



On the following morning, on July 18, the Russians divided a 
barrel into two sections and placed a glass with fresh water, some fire- 
wood, and a handful of rice in one section, and a few coins, a piece of 
cloth, some crystal objects, and beads in the other. This they hoped 
would tell the Japanese what they needed, and what they were willing 
to give in exchange. As if to shame the Japanese into peaceful dealings, 
they enclosed a sketch on which Mur had depicted the vessel as it 
peacefully lay in a shower of Japanese bullets. Then they placed the 
barrel on the water, opposite the city. No sooner had they moved 
away, than the Japanese got the barrel and took it to the fortress, but, 
though Golovnin advanced within cannon shot of the fortress the 
following day, there was no reply. This sorely provoked Golovnin. 
Nevertheless, he and his officers agreed not to resort to hostilities, 
unless absolutely necessary, and once again withdrew from the for- 
tress. But supplies were needed, and Golovnin sent Rikord with an 
armed boat to a coastal fishing settlement. Finding the settlement 
deserted, the Russians helped themselves to firewood, some rice, and 
dried fish, but found no good water. In exchange they left some 
European objects. When Golovnin himself landed in the afternoon 
to have a look at the Japanese fishing establishment, he was happy 
to observe that these objects were no longer there, and concluded 
that, having found payment for the supplies taken, the Japanese 
must have understood that the Russians had come with friendly in- 

On the morning of July 20, the Russians sighted a barrel on the 
water before the city. In it they found a carefully wrapped box, and 
in the box a Japanese letter, which they could not understand, and 
two pictures. Depicting the harbor and the Diana, the barrel, and 
the boat rowing up to it, one of the pictures had the Japanese bat- 
teries pointed silently inland, the other facing seaward and firing. 
Golovnin interpreted this to mean that the Japanese had suffered the 
Russians to place the barrel before the town without interference, 
but that they would shoot, were they to try to do so again. When 
the Diana moved to the western shore of the harbor and sent armed 
boats ashore for fresh water, however, the Japanese did not molest 
them, but merely observed their activity indirectly through a num- 
ber of natives. 

On July 21, when the Russians had landed once again in quest 
of fresh water, an Ainu approached them from the fortress and hold- 



ing a cross in one hand, continued to make the sign of the cross with 
the other. Aleksei had not accompanied the seamen ashore and this 
Ainu, though he had learned to cross himself on Rashowa Island, 
knew only a few words of Russian. Through gestures alone, there- 
fore, Golovnin was given to understand that the Japanese commander 
suggested that they confer on boats near the city, accompanied by 
only four or five men. To this he gladly agreed. 

The Japanese, meanwhile, had placed another barrel on the water, 
right near a battery, and with their white fans they beckoned the 
Russians to come closer. This might well have been suicide, and 
Golovnin began to wonder already, whether he had not misunder- 
stood the Ainu, when a boat left shore and a Japanese official and a 
Kurilian language interpreter approached. 

The Japanese apologized for having fired, justifying their action 
by the fear of Russian aggression, evoked by the raids of Khvostov 
and Davydov. They admitted that they were now satisfied that the 
intentions of Golovnin were different, and professed to be delighted 
to hear that Russia, as Golovnin explained, was amicably disposed 
toward Japan. They asked what the Russians needed and how they 
could be of service to them. When Golovnin requested various food- 
stuffs, they told him to come ashore to discuss suitable compensation 
with their commander. This Golovnin offered to do on the following 
day, when the Diana would take up position nearer to the fortress. 
He was reassured meanwhile, by the secret report of the Ainu, that 
the good aim and rapidity of fire of Khvostov's raiders had filled the 
Japanese with an awesome fear of Russians and that they had been 
most relieved and happy to learn that it was with peaceful intentions 
that the Russians had come this time. 

On the morning of July 22, a barrel was placed on the water once 
again by the Japanese. In it Golovnin found all the things, which 
his men had left both on land and in the barrel. Instead of removing 
these objects, Golovnin added coins and silken East Indian kerchiefs. 
He was about to return to the Diana, when he saw that the Japanese 
beckoned with white fans for him to land. Carefully he approached 
them, and, five hundred feet from the gates of the fortress, pulled up 
to shore. He had ordered his four oarsmen to keep their muskets hid- 
den from sight, but within ready reach. Now, he told three of the 
oarsmen to keep the boat on the water and, letting no one touch it, 
watch his every movement and command, and, concealing six pistols 



in his pockets and bosom, stepped ashore himself, accompanied by 
Aleksei and the fourth seaman. 

Golovnin was met by five two-sworded Japanese in silken dress 
and armor, and some dozen unarmed Ainu. The Japanese welcomed 
him most politely and asked him to wait for the commander. When 
he inquired why they had returned the things left by the Russians, 
the Japanese said they could accept nothing, until the conclusion of 
negotiations. Recalling that this had been the case at the time of 
the Laxman embassy as well, Golovnin rested satisfied. Soon, a Jap- 
anese official arrived with two attendants, one of whom carried a 
long spear, the other a cap. The three were fully armed, but Japanese 
ceremonial behavior robbed the official of military bearing in Rus- 
sian eyes. "Nothing can be funnier than his walk: his eyes fixed to 
the ground, his arms akimbo, he barely moved his feet, while keep- 
ing his legs so far apart as if straddling a small ditch." 

Golovnin and the official exchanged bows. They apologized for 
being such a bother to each other, and the Japanese made up a story 
of a boat, which he had dispatched to meet the Russians as they had 
entered the harbor, and declared that, had the Russians sent a boat 
of their own to meet it, he never would have fired on them. Golovnin 
in turn departed from the truth, when explaining why he had come to 
the Kurils. He alleged that the Diana had been en route from the 
eastern regions of Russia to St. Petersburg, when unfavorable winds 
had so delayed her that she had run short of fresh water and fire- 
wood; that he had met a Japanese detachment on Etorofu and re- 
ceived a letter pledging assistance; and that, as soon as he would re- 
ceive the necessary supplies, he would sail directly to Canton, there 
to replenish them again. This the Japanese did not accept at face 
value any more than Golovnin had accepted his story, and mentioned 
that, according to his information, the Russians had said on Etorofu 
that they had come to trade. He asked Golovnin many questions — 
whether he was indeed the captain of the ship (this he asked several 
times), what his name was, what the name of the Russian Emperor 
was, whether he knew Rezanov, and whether there were in St. Peters- 
burg people who knew Japanese — and wrote down the answers. 
Then he commanded that refreshments be brought. The Russians 
helped themselves to the tea, the sake, the caviar, and the other 
things without fear, but they were made uneasy by the fact that the 
men, who brought each item on a separate tray, did not withdraw 
again, so that shortly they were surrounded by a large number of 



warriors. Under the pretext of getting sonic French brandy from the 
ship, Golovnin reminded his men to be prepared tor any eventuality, 
though he realized that the Japanese could overwhelm his little 
group, it they chose to do so. 

When Golovnin asked when he could receive the needed supplies 
and requested that the official name the price, he was informed to 
his amazement that the official was not the commander of the lor- 
tress, as he had assumed, and that he would have to go into the 
fortress itself to negotiate with the latter. Golovnin agreed to do so, 
if the Japanese officials meanwhile would visit the Diana. Though 
one of them wished to visit the ship, this was not permitted by the 
commander of the fortress, who promised to come out himself soon, 
but then sent word that he was having dinner and would be much 
delayed. Golovnin would not wait, and exchanging some gifts with 
the Japanese, returned aboard ship, promising to visit the fortress 
after bringing the Diana closer to shore. 

It was evening by the time the Diana cast anchor within cannon 
shot of the fortress, and too late to enter into negotiations. But 
Golovnin sent Iakushkin ashore to present the letter from Etorofu, 

The Bay of Deceit, Southern Kunashiri 


bring: back fresh fish, and communicate that he would come to the 
fortress in the morning. Iakushkin returned with over a hundred 
large fish and reported that the Japanese would like Golovnin to 
bring along some of his officers. Suspecting the ensign of having 
engineered this invitation himself in the hope of being taken along, 
Golovnin saw nothing unusual in this request. 44 

On the morning of July 23, Golovnin went ashore with Ensign 
Mur, Navigator Andrei Khlebnikov, the Ainu Aleksei, and four 
sailors (Dmitrii Simanov, 45 Spiridon Makarov, Mikhailo Shkaev, and 
Grigorii Vasilev). Passing the barrel, they looked into it and saw 
that the Japanese had still not removed the Russian objects, but, 
reassured again by Laxman's experience, harbored no misgivings. 
They trusted the Japanese enough by now, that the sailors went 
unarmed and Golovnin, Mur, and Khlebnikov had only their swords 
and a pocket pistol, which Khlebnikov carried to signal to the 
Diana in case of fog. As a last touch of confidence, which Golovnin 
displayed somewhat ostentatiously in order to allay Japanese sus- 
picions, he had the boat pulled half-way onto shore, leaving it in 
the guard of only one sailor and Aleksei. He took along the other 
three seamen, laden with chairs and with gifts for the Japanese. 

For some fifteen minutes the Russians were delayed on shore by 
the three officials with whom they had met the previous day. Prepa- 
rations for the reception had not been completed, they said. While 
waiting, Golovnin questioned the officials about the Matsumae coast- 
line, then visible, and about trade relations between the main island 
and the Kurils. The Japanese answered his questions, but with ob- 
vious reluctance. At last the Russians were led to the fortress. 

As Golovnin entered through the gate, he was shocked to find 
some three to four hundred heavily armed Japanese warriors and a 
multitude of Ainu within the enclosure. "The thought had never 
entered my head," he recalled, "that in such a small fortress there 
could be so many armed men." About thirty paces from the gate 
there stood a tent, to which the Russians were led. In it the Japanese 
commander, Nasa Masatoki, awaited them. Clad in full armor and 
wearing his two swords, he was seated on a chair, holding in his 
hands the symbolic metal staff of his position, while behind him on 
the floor sat weapon bearers with his spear, musket, and helmet. To 

44 Golovnin, Zapiski, 1: 21-42. 

45Rikord and the English version of Golovnin give the name as Simanov; Golovnin's 
Zapiski as Simon ov. 



his left the second commander rested on a slightly lower chair, with 
his weapon bearers likewise on the floor behind him. Other two- 
sworded Japanese sat on the ground along the side of the tent. 

As the Russians entered, the commanders rose and exchanged 
bows with them. Ignoring the benches prepared for them, the Rus- 
sian officers seated themselves on chairs they had brought along, 
while the sailors occupied the benches behind them. After the in- 
evitable tea and tobacco, the commanders posed many questions and 
jotted down the answers. They inquired after Rezanov and asked 
why Russian vessels had attacked Japanese territory. They wanted 
to know how many men the Diana carried and whether there were 
other ships of her size in these waters. Always ready to boost the 
prestige of the Russian Empire, Golovnin promptly inflated the 
crew to one hundred and two in number and alleged that there were 
very many more vessels like the Diana in Okhotsk, Kamchatka, and 

While they were thus engrossed in conversation, Mur noticed that 
unsheathed swords were being distributed among the soldiers on the 
square, but Golovnin refused to share his concern. The soldiers had 
worn swords from the beginning; what need was there for them to 
unsheath them now? The second commander had left the tent a 
while ago. Returning, he whispered something to the commander. 
Nasa rose and tried to walk out of the tent, but before he got past 
them, the Russians stood up to say good-bye, asking about payment 
for supplies. Nasa sat down again and, early though it was, ordered 
dinner to be served. Dinner completed, he tried to leave once nore, 
but the Russians declared that they could not wait for his return 
and that it was time for them to go back. Again the commander sat 
down. Without orders from the governor of Matsumae, he could not 
supply the Russians with anything, he declared, and demanded that, 
until the receipt of instructions from his superiors, one of the Rus- 
sians remain in the fortress as hostage! Nasa said that such a reply 
could be expected from Matsumae in about a fortnight, but Golovnin 
realized that the governor of Matsumae would not make any decision 
without instructions from the Japanese government and that no 
answer could be expected before winter. He replied that he could 
not decide by himself to wait so long, but must confer with the of- 
ficers on ship; nor would he leave a hostage. Thereupon Nasa shed 
his amicable countenance and putting his hand on his sword spouted 



forth in anger. Aleksei was too terrified to translate the lengthy 
harangue, but the commander's gestures and his continuous reference 
to Rezanov and Khvostov were explicit enough. At last Aleksei pulled 
himself together and explained: 'The commander says that if he 
lets but one of us out of the fortress, his own bowels will have to be 
ripped open." Nasa's intentions were crystal clear. 46 

The Russians ran for the gate. Screaming, the Japanese jumped 
up and threw oars and pieces of wood under foot so as to trip the 
Russians. Mur, Aleksei, and the sailor Makarov were nabbed within 
the fortress. The others made it out of the gate, while bullets whisked 
past them. They reached the boat, but the ebb had left it hopelessly 
stranded on the beach, too far for them to launch it themselves. Soon 
they were surrounded by the Japanese. They were prisoners. 

Back in the fortress, the Japanese tied the Russians so ingeniously 
that the pull of a long rope, held by a guard, would have broken 
their arms at the elbows, while a noose around the neck would have 
strangled them. Under heavy guard the Russians were led to another 
part of the island, to the shore facing Hokkaido. For over six hours 
they were marched, painfully bound and breathing with difficulty. 
At one point Golovnin fainted away and blood poured from his nose 
and mouth. So excruciating was the pain, if head or body were 
moved, that the prisoners prayed for the mercy of a speedy death. 

The Japanese were not particularly distressed by the suffering of 
the prisoners, but neither did they gloat at their fate, except for one 
youth who mocked their groans in song. Had the guards wished to 
ease their pain, it is unlikely that they would have dared to loosen 
the ropes for fear the Russians commit suicide or escape, or they 
themselves incur the displeasure of their superiors. In general, the 
guards showed a certain humanitarian concern for the comfort of 
the prisoners, fed them with chopsticks, willingly ministered to calls 
of nature, and even fanned away mosquitoes and flies. When a guard, 
annoyed by something or other, did occasionally strike one of the 
Russians, his superiors would reprimand him forthwith. 

At night the Russians were carried onto Japanese boats and taken 
to Hokkaido, where they continued their journey by boat down the 
coast, on foot across mountainous paths, by boat down streams and 
artificial waterways, on foot again. Throughout this arduous pro- 
cession to Hakodate, the Japanese were filled with concern for the 

46 Golovnin, Zapiski, 1: 42-47; Hiraoka, Nichi-Ro, 248-249. 



prisoners' health. They carried them over the smallest streams, not 
to wet their feet, and, in one settlement, provided them with a sooth- 
ing ointment for their rope-inflicted wounds. When they stopped, 
Japanese villagers would come up and sit with them at length, asking 
about Laxman and Rezanov and their men. They would tell of the 
praise, which repatriated castaways had had for their own treatment 
in Russia, voicing confidence that Golovnin and his fellow prisoners 
would also be permitted to return to their country some day. 
Wherever the Russians passed, crowds would gather, but their mood 
was friendly and sake, candy, fruits, and other refreshments were 
offered to the captives by the populace. Eager collectors of souvenirs, 
many Japanese asked the Russians to draw them pictures of a Rus- 
sian vessel or inscribe white fans with the Russian alphabet, numbers, 
and so forth. The Russians obliged willingly, if only to have their 
ropes loosened for a while. The care with which the Japanese had 
preserved a fan, on which a member of the Laxman embassy had 
jotted some lines of a Russian song, showed how much they treasured 
such mementos. 47 

At Onno, some four and a half miles out of Hakodate, preparations 
were made for a formal entry into the city. The Japanese changed 
dress and put on their armor; the captives were feasted with a delecta- 
ble chicken breakfast, then retied as painfully as ever. At this point 
an argument broke out between the escort of Nambu clansmen, who 
insisted that the captives be retied exactly as they had been when 
they had taken charge of them on Kunashiri, and the government 
warriors, who did not deem this necessary. The matter was finally 
settled by consultation with Hakodate, and the Russians entered 
the city on August 20, hands untied. 

The natural setting of Hakodate is beautiful, but there was nothing 
scenic about the dark, walled-in prison to which the Russians were 
taken. They were freed of their ropes, but were thrown into small, 
zoo-like cages, which were as uncomfortable as they were depressing. 
Even the more spacious cell of Golovnin, which he occupied at 
first alone, then with seaman Makarov, was demoralizing beyond 

On August 22, the prisoners were led before the commandant of 
Hakodate, in a castle on the other side of town. One by one he 
interrogated them through the interpreters of Ainu, Uehara Kumajiro 

47 Golovnin, Zapiski, > 148-66; Tokutomi, xxv, 276-286. 




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Shimoda Bay after the earthquake. 
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and Aleksei, his questions ranging all the way from, whether their 
parents were still alive and how many brothers and children they 
had, to the number of men a Russian officer of specified rank com- 
manded, and why the hairdo of Golovnin differed from that of 
Laxman. More important, he showed the prisoners a map, copied 
from a Russian globe, and demanded that they indicate how they 
had come, and where they had been. 

Several more times the commandant was to interview the Russians: 
on September ninth, tenth, thirteenth, and seventeenth. On the 
ninth, his report of the first meeting having brought a demand from 
Matsumae for additional facts, the commandant subjected the cap- 
tives to a torrent of questions. Why had they come? Where had they 
been? When had they been there? How did Russian vessels navigate? 
Who did what aboard Russian ships? He was especially interested in 
learning more about the Rezanov embassy and the raids of Khvostov 
and Davydov, and asked about the disposition of the arms and goods 
carried away by the latter, all the while trying to connect the activities 
of Golovnin with those of Rezanov and the raiders. Jumping back 
and forth, reverting to the same questions, and jotting down every 
statement, the Japanese tried to catch any inconsistencies in the 
Russian testimony. But the Russians held their ground, replying 
truthfully to all but two major questions: they concealed a casual 
personal acquaintance with Khvostov and Davydov and did not dis- 
close the geographical nature of their expedition. 48 

On September tenth, the captives were ordered to translate a letter, 
which Rikord had put ashore following their capture, together with 
trunks, bundles of clothing, and other personal belongings of theirs. 
Signed by all the officers aboard the Diana and dated July 23, 1811, 
the letter read as follows: 

My God! Will these lines be delivered to you, and are you alive? At 
first it was decided, by the general consensus of all the officers remaining 
on the sloop, to take peaceable measures for your liberation; but that 
very second a cannon-ball from the fortress flew past our ears a great 
distance past the sloop, wherefore I decided to open fire also. What is to 
be done? What measures should be taken? The smallness of our cannon- 
balls made little impression on the city; shallow water did not permit 
us to put ashore a landing party, and thus, notifying you thereof, we have 
resorted to the last resource: to hasten to Okhotsk and return if our forces 
are increased there, not to leave these shores again until we have freed 

48 Golovnin, Zapiski, 1:66-96. 



you, or have laid down our life for you, esteemed commander, and for 
you, esteemed friends! Should the Japanese permit you to reply, order, 
esteemed Vasilii Mikhailovich, as the commander: we shall do everything 
on the sloop; all to a single man are ready to lay down their life for you. 49 

Moved to the point of tears, the Russians were still careful not to 
disclose the impotence of their vessel, and they twisted the meaning 
of the letter as they translated it. Stating that the Diana had fired to 
defend herself rather than to inflict damage on the Japanese, they 
tendered the "smallness" of Russian cannon-balls, because of which 
little harm was done, as the "small number" of shots fired, and 
explained away the lack of men for a landing party, by portraying 
the purpose of such a landing party not as a simple assault, but as 
the complete surrounding of the fortress to prevent the removal of 
the prisoners; the need of reinforcements in Okhotsk, they interpreted 
as additional authority from their government, authority without 
which no attack on the Japanese could be executed. When the ques- 
tioning shifted to other matters — international relations, conditions 
in Europe, and whatever came to the mind of the interrogators — the 
Russians replied truthfully, except, when it came to Russia's military 
and naval power; then they exaggerated liberally, multiplying the 
number of fortresses and troops in Siberia, and studding the harbors 
of the Okhotsk shore, Kamchatka, and North America with Russian 
vessels. They admitted that they had heard enough about the Laxman 
and Rezanov expeditions to know that the Japanese prohibited Rus- 
sian vessels from coming to trade, but pleaded that they could not 
have imagined that such interdiction applied to ships in need or 
distress — even uncivilized barbarians helped those. 

On September 13, the captives were questioned concerning another 
letter, which they had been asked to translate the previous day. Its 
text was embarrassing: 

On October 12/24, 1806, the Russian frigate Iunona, under the com- 
mand of Navy Lieutenant Khvostov, bestowed on the chieftain of the 
settlement on the western shore of Aniwa Bay a silver medal on a Vladimir 
ribbon as a token of taking Sakhalin Island and its inhabitants under the 
most gracious protection of the Russian Emperor Alexander the First. 
We ask every vessel which comes, Russian as well as foreign, to regard 
this chieftain as a Russian subject. 

Russian Navy Lieutenant Khvostov 
Affixed: family seal and picture of Russian naval and national flags. 50 

49 Ibid., 1:97-98. 
go Ibid., 1:99-103. 



The Russians had succeeded in modifying the meaning of the note 
left by their shipmates, but how could they ever persuade the Japa- 
nese, who placed so much emphasis on propriety, that a person of as 
low a rank as Khvostov could have dared on his own, without author- 
ity from the government, to incorporate into the Russian domain a 
people, dependent on a foreign power, and to distribute among it 
medals portraying his emperor? Would the Japanese not take this 
letter as proof that the Russian government had instigated the raids of 
Khvostov and Davydov, and that Golovnin and his men were spies, 
sent to reconnoiter their coastal fortifications? Desperately the Rus- 
sians argued that, had their government planned to annex territory, 
it would have done so at once on a larger scale. The Japanese nodded 
their heads and laughed. Not very convincingly the Russians ex- 
plained that "frigate" applied to a merchant vessel, that "Vladimir 
ribbon" simply meant a striped ribbon, and that silver medals were of 
little value, Khvostov probably having bought them someplace or 
having taken them from his subordinates. Hopelessly they argued 
that the naval flag which had been drawn at the bottom of Khvostov's 
declaration side by side with the national flag did not identify the 
Iunona as a man-of-war, but that Khvostov had merely wished to 
acquaint the Japanese with both types of Russian flags, and that his 
actual display of the naval flag had been equally meaningless, since 
it had occurred without authorization. Nor was Golovnin successful 
in convincing the Japanese that the little wooden boards bearing 
the name of the Diana, the year 1811, and his own name, which he 
himself had posted on Etorofu and Kunashiri, and which the Japanese 
now put before him, had been left for no more sinister purpose than 
the tracing of his route in the event of shipwreck. 61 

The visit to the castle on September 17, terminated the round of 
questioning in Hakodate, but there was little that the prisoners 
could glean about their future. Harsh as their confinement was, they 
were treated relatively well, and the interminable string of visitors 
that called on them at the prison included not only such men as 
Uehara Kumajiro and Doctor Togo, who were compiling a Russo- 
Japanese dictionary, but amicable autograph hunters of all sorts. 
Even during their questioning they were treated with civility; speak- 
ing quietly and gently, almost always with a smile, the interrogators 
addressed them as if chatting with good acquaintances. What con- 
cerned the prisoners most, was the way in which they had become 

silbid., 1:103-107. 



enmeshed in a net of circumstantial evidence. They were especially 
distressed to learn that, when Aleksei and his fellow Ainu had been 
captured by the Japanese, they had tried to protect themselves and 
to gain the favor of the Japanese by concealing the fact that they had 
come to trade with the islanders, making up a story that an official 
on Kamchatka had forced them to set out and reconnoiter Japanese 
settlements and strongholds in preparation for an attack on the shores 
of Japan by seven Russian vessels from Petropavlovsk the following 
year, a baseless fabrication, but highly damaging, because of two 
coincidences: "the following year" approximated the time of the 
Diana's arrival, and the Russians themselves, when they had tried 
to impress the Japanese with the naval might of their country, had 
put the number of warships in Petropavlovsk at "seven." It was 
evident also that the testimony of repatriated castaways, who were 
familiar with the weakness of Russia's military position in the Far 
East, could shatter Golovnin's contention that Russia would have 
initiated hostilities on a far grander scale had she intended to attack 
Japan, and there was the danger that Aleksei, who had made up the 
above story, would improvise further to ingratiate himself with his 
captors. The Japanese rejected Golovnin's argument that it was per- 
missible for him to have helped himself to the desperately needed fire- 
wood and water, since there was no one in the settlement with whom 
he could have negotiated, and since he had left more than equitable 
payment, remarking dryly that according to the laws of Japan a man 
must starve to death rather than take a single grain of rice without 
permission of the owner. In desperation Golovnin handed to one of 
the innocent autograph hunters a "song," hoping that, like the in- 
scriptions of Laxman's day, it would be put before the eyes of later 
Russian visitors. Signed by himself, the "song" read: 

If ever there will be Russians here who are not prisoners but are armed, 
they must know that seven of their compatriots were captured by the 
Japanese by deceit and cunning, were put into this jail, and kept as 
prisoners without any reason. The unfortunate ones ask their country- 
men to take proper vengeance on this perfidious people. 52 

On October 8, all the officials except the commander of the fortress 
called at the prison and, through the cell bars, wished the captives a 
safe journey and good fortune. Then the Russians were roped around 
the waist and escorted to Matsumae, where they arrived four days 

52 Ibid., 1:90. 



later, and were promptly incarcerated in two cages, in a dark shed, 
inside the walled castle grounds. The shed measured some twenty-five 
paces in length, fifteen paces in width, and about fourteen feet in 
height. Three of its sides were windowless walls, the fourth a grating 
of heavy squared beams with a door and a small gate. Similar beams 
formed the cages in the center of the shed. One measured six paces 
in width and six in length, and was about ten feet in height; it was 
occupied by the three officers. Another measured six paces in width, 
eight in .length and ten feet in height; it housed the sailors and 
Aleksei. The cages were provided with heavy gates, so low in height 
that the prisoners had to crawl through them, and these, like the 
gates of the shed, were now securely locked. Above the cage gates, 
there was a small opening for food. In the rear of each cell, there 
was a little closet with primitive provisions for the necessities of 
nature, which not even Japanese laws tried to restrict. The sides of 
the two cages facing each other had been boarded, so that while the 
Japanese could constantly watch all of the prisoners, the inmates of 
the different cages could not see each other. The cages, shed, and 
wooden enclosure were elaborate and new, designed, it appeared, for 
more or less permanent occupancy, and, watched constantly by guards 
outside the shed and by others, who entered every half hour and 
peered at them through the beams of the cages at close range, the 
Russians saw no chance for escape. 

On October 14, the Russians were brought before Arao Shigeaki, 
Lord of Tajima, the governor of Matsumae. Amicably, he asked them 
questions, running the gamut from the Rezanov expedition to differ- 
ences in burial service for rich and poor in Russia, then startled them 
by inquiring where they would like to live: in Matsumae, in Edo, 
somewhere else in Japan, or back in Russia. When they insisted that 
they wished to return to their fatherland or else die, the smile faded 
from Arao's face and he began to assure them earnestly that the 
Japanese had a heart like other people and that, if it could be estab- 
lished that the raids of Khvostov and Davydov had indeed been 
unauthorized, they would be permitted to return to Russia; mean- 
while they must not grieve, but take care of themselves, and feel free 
to request whatever clothing or special food they required. There 
was comfort in the obvious sincerity of Arao's utterance, and yet had 
their capture not been the result of deceit? The prisoners could not 
help suspect that the Japanese consoled them merely to keep them 



from attempting suicide, expecting that, with time, they would 
become resigned to staying in Japan, where their Western learning 
was eagerly sought. 

Until mid-November the prisoners were taken to the governor's 
castle almost every other day and questioned from morning until 
evening. What was the dress of the Russian Emperor? What kind of 
birds were there in St. Petersburg? Did the Russians like the Dutch? 
What salary did they get? How many times a day did Russians go 
to church? At what age did Russian women first give birth? When 
could they no longer do so? Not all the questions were equally hap- 
hazard, however. The Japanese showed great interest in the illustra- 
tions of a French book on physics and sought important information 
regarding Russia's economic and military power, interspersing perti- 
nent questions in the midst of trivia, as if by accident. But there was 
nothing casual in the Japanese request that Mur sketch a map of 
St. Petersburg and indicate the exact location of military and naval 
garrisons, furnishing data on their size, training, and so forth. 

Arao had told the prisoners to put their plea for repatriation on 
paper, and had furnished them with the necessary writing materials 
and interpreters. For almost a month they labored on the document, 
slowed down by the problems of syntax and vocabulary in the transla- 
tion of the Russian draft into Japanese by way of Kurilian. When it 
was finished at last and provided, as Arao had suggested, with a cover- 
ing letter to himself, stating that the document offered proof of their 
innocence and petitioning that he communicate with his government 
concerning their repatriation, Arao received the prisoners again and 
in a long speech declared that he believed their assurances of inno- 
cence and, though he did not have the authority to release them, 
would at least remove their ropes and improve their living conditions. 
He promised to support their plea for liberation and, as w r as his habit, 
asked them not to despair, but to pray to God and calmly await 
the decision of the Japanese ruler. 

To the apparent satisfaction of everyone the prisoners were un- 
bound, and as they were led out of the audience hall, guards, workers, 
and onlookers, whom they did not even know, rushed up to con- 
gratulate them. Even before this, the Russians had been treated 
relatively well. Two Japanese, once captured by Khvostov and taken 
to Kamchatka for a winter, tried to cook to their taste; benches had 
been provided so that the Russians need not sleep on the floor, and 
the toilets had been rebuilt Western-style. But as they were led 



back to their shed now, they could hardly believe their eyes. The 
front grating of the cages had been removed; the adjoining hall-like 
corridor had been furnished with new matted flooring; a teapot stood 
over the fire. The ugly shed seemed almost liveable. No sooner had 
they returned, than officials arrived with their children and, chatting 
pleasantly, congratulated them. When their dinner was brought, it 
was served on new dishes and individual trays; the food was better, 
the sake supply more liberal — everything was done to make the 
Russians feel more like guests than like prisoners. For the first time 
they slept in peace. 

The departure of the official who was to take the Russian document 
to Edo was delayed, however. A second signature attesting the accu- 
racy of its translation was ostensibly necessary, and a young man, 
about twenty-five years of age, was brought to the Russians for 
language instruction. At once the old suspicion that the Japanese 
planned to keep them in Japan as experts in Western culture reas- 
serted itself, a suspicion fed by the rumor that a Dutchman, who had 
agreed never to leave the country, was engaged in astronomical 
observations and cartography in the capital; a suspicion not en- 
tirely farfetched, for in the early seventeenth century the English- 
man Will Adams had been retained in such a way by the Japanese. 
The Russians accused the Japanese of scheming to detain them 
permanently: "If we were sure that the Japanese truly intended to 
return us to Russia, we would teach them day and night till the very 
time of our departure everything we know, but now, seeing the deceit, 
we do not want to." Upon further deliberation the Russians con- 
sented to teach the young man, so that Uehara would be assisted by 
a second interpreter, but when the Japanese sent an additional stu- 
dent, they refused categorically, repeating that they would rather die 
than stay in japan; under no circumstances would they become 
teachers. They had agreed to instruct a second interpreter, now the 
Japanese sent a boy; soon there would be a whole school. "But this 
will never be: we will not turn to teaching; we are few and unarmed; 
you may kill us, but we do not want to teach." 

The second interpreter, Murakami Teisuke, proved a very talented 
student. Unlike Uehara, who was dull and slow of learning, he picked 
up Russian with great facility. He brought along a box full of dic- 
tionaries and reports, prepared by castaways, who had been in Russia, 
and corrected and expanded a word list of his own, recording all 



new words in the Cyrillic alphabet. Murakami did not confine him- 
self to linguistics, but the captives willingly answered most of his 
many questions concerning Russia, eager of the opportunity to paint 
a glowing picture of their country; when Murakami touched on 
matters which they did not care to divulge, they sidestepped them 
easily by replying that they had spent their life at sea, and their 
knowledge of conditions in Russia was therefore limited. They readily 
explained Russian words, but they refused to give English, French, 
or Dutch equivalents for fear the Japanese would rely on the Dutch 
to verify their translations. They told Murakami that the British had 
intercepted a letter of the secretary of the Batavia Council to the 
Dutch government, in which the Dutchman claimed the credit for 
having inclined the Japanese against Russia, and took the opportunity 
to tell a few stories of their own about the Dutch. 

At the beginning of the new year, a delegation of officials, among 
them the former commander of Kunashiri and the official who had 
given the Russians a letter on Etorofu, departed for Edo. In addition 
to the documents, they carried with them samples of the Russians' 
belongings as well as portraits, sketched by Murakami, on which, in 
the words of Golovnin, ''except for our long beards, there was 
nothing . . . that resembled anyone of us." Among the Russian 
belongings there were books, and in one of them the Japanese dis- 
covered a slip of red paper. As fate would have it, it was a tag from 
some Japanese goods, which Khvostov had plundered on Etorofu, 
and had been given by someone to Golovnin, who used it as a book- 
mark. Golovnin told the Japanese that the slip of paper was Chinese 
and that he did not remember where he had obtained it, but the 
discovery disconcerted him very much, for should the true nature 
of the tag be learned in the capital, he would be linked with Khvostov 
beyond redemption. 

The more Russian Murakami learned, the more questions he could 
ask, and the prisoners were called upon to go over documents of the 
Laxman and Rezanov expeditions and books in different languages, 
concerning the world beyond Japan, among them an account of 
Benyovszky's uprising, a narrative of the Russian and English attack 
on Holland in 1799, and a geography of the Russian Empire; the 
latter with its description of Russia in the Dark Ages intrigued 
Murakami especially. On the ground that the governor of Matsumae 
did not want to be outdone by the governor of Nagasaki, who was 



well informed on the subject, Murakami requested amplification of 
the Christian ritual, which Japanese castaways had described. With 
interest the prisoners examined the maps which the castaways, repatri- 
ated by Rezanov, had sketched of all the lands and seas they had seen; 
faulty in scale, they were still surprisingly skillful in conception. 
When the prisoners were tired of being interrogated, they would 
begin asking questions of their own. At once the Japanese would 
become less communicative, refusing to disclose even their ruler's 

name or title. 

By mid-February Russian patience was near the end. A promise of 
better quarters had failed to materialize and Murakami admitted 
that no decision had been reached in Edo concerning their case. In 
desperation Golovnin and Khlebnikov proposed to their countrymen 
that they attempt to escape. They could make their way to shore, 
take possession of a vessel, and sail to Kamchatka or the coast of 
Tatary. Since Japanese boats had often been driven to Russian 
territory, chances were that they, with their expert knowledge of 
navigation, could make their way back safely; at worst, it would be 
better to die at sea than to expire in Japanese captivity. Mur and 
the sailors Simanov and Vasilev objected, but the others began 
storing up the necessary supplies; they managed to hide a little cereal 
at meal time, secretly dried it at night, and stowed it away in small 
bags. The question arose whether it would be safe to initiate the 
Ainu Aleksei into the secret. After some hesitation it was decided, 
that his knowledge of edible roots and grasses and his familiarity 
with local waters, might prove valuable and, though Aleksei grew 
pale with fright when told of the plan to escape, he quickly pulled 
himself together and agreed to go along. By mid-March, when Mura- 
kami reported that no one in the capital believed the story of the 
captives and hinted at the existence of yet another incriminating 
letter of Khvostov, Mur and the two sailors also agreed to join the 
flight. Gradually the guards relaxed their vigilance, and the prisoners 
prepared to escape through a small gate, by which the toilets were 
cleaned, planning to pry it open with a sharp knife that Simanov 
had managed to conceal, when Mur unexpectedly demurred once 
again. His decision to stay behind forced the other captives to delay 
until the coming of warm weather, when, as the interpreters had 
promised, they would be taken on small excursions, during which an 
opportunity for sudden flight might present itself, without the danger 



of Mur thwarting their plans. It produced a rift between Mur and 
his countrymen; at the same time it marked a startling change in 
his attitude toward the Japanese. Shying away from his own com- 
rades, Mur adopted Japanese manners and forms of salutation, 
addressing the officials as if they were his oflicial superiors. The son 
of a German in the Russian service, Mur began to disclaim being 
Russian, hoping, it seems, to enter Japanese employment as an 
interpreter some day. 

In April, the captives were transferred to a relatively comfortable 
house within the fortress grounds, and were invited to live with the 
Japanese as with their own countrymen and brothers, but news that 
the shogunate had decided to repel all Western attempts at negotia- 
tion, as well as the unlikelihood of sufficient Russian naval pressure to 
effect their release in the near future, sustained their determination to 
escape. By now, the guards paid little attention to them — read books, 
played cards in the guard house, or actually fell asleep. Only the fear 
that Mur might sound the alarm prevented the captives from sneak- 
ing away at night. Patiently they added to their secret store of sup- 
plies and even made a little compass. 

During the night of May 5 to May 6, the Russians stole two knives 
from the kitchen, bored a tunnel under the wall, and, leaving behind 
Mur and Aleksei, slipped into the open. Silently they headed toward 
the mountains, intent on making their way to a coastal settlement, 
where they could take possession of a suitable vessel. 53 

For four days the fugitives clung to the cover of the mountains, 
pushing north across untrodden slopes, mountain ridges, and frozen 
rivers, braving unknown dangers and the chill of icy winds, their 
progress hampered excruciatingly by fear of discovery and an injured 
knee, which Golovnin had incurred, when crawling through the 
narrow passage under the wall. Concerned with the way their flight 
across the mountains was sapping them of the strength they needed 
to defend themselves against the wild animals of Hokkaido or to 
take possession of a vessel and navigate it to freedom, the Russians 
at last turned westward and at night ventured into the open, armed 
with wooden lances. 

Their flight into the mountains had necessitated a great deal of 
zigzagging, and, as they stepped out onto the seashore, the Russians 
were no more than sixteen miles from where they had started. Con- 

53 Ibid., 1:107-201. 


tinuing northward, they stole past several Japanese villages with 
good, but disappointingly small boats, before withdrawing to the 
mountains again, where they hid during the day, and sewed two 
sails from their shirts, making rigging out of ropes of twisted scraps 
of cotton. They continued their flight for several days, pushing north 
along the coast at night, retreating to the cover of the mountains 
before dawn. 

At one place the fugitives spotted a suitable vessel riding at anchor, 
but it put out to sea before they could execute an attack; another 
ship, which would have been satisfactory, was guarded too carefully. 
At last they found several unattended boats that seemed just right- 
one of them fully equipped — but to their exasperation they lacked 
the strength to push them into the water. This, and the increasing 
risk of discovery as the result of the strikingly large footprints which 
their Siberian-type boots, sewn by Simanov, had left at least at one 
place, and of repeated encounters with barking dogs, prompted the 
fugitives to make a drastic change in plans. They had heard of a 
small uninhabited wooded island, some twenty-five or thirty miles 
from shore. If they could make their way there — and for this they 
only needed small boats, which they could have launched without 

difficulty they could replenish their strength on the island at leisure 

and at the proper time make a surprise attack on one of the many 
vessels, which passed there, and on it return to Russia. But the change 
in plans had come too late. The Russians were in the midst of 
deliberation in their mountainous hiding place, when suddenly they 
found themselves surrounded by a ring of Japanese soldiers. After 
eight days at large, they were prisoners again. 

The march to Matsumae was relatively short; the following day, 
on May 15, the Russians were back in the city. Along the way they 
saw the tell-tale footprints, which they had left during their flight, 
and noticed that the Japanese had marked them with stakes. So 
closely had the Japanese followed in their tracks, that they could have 
descended upon them earlier, but they had bided their time, whether, 
as Golovnin believed, for fear of losing too many of their own men 
or, more likely, because they were concerned with recapturing all of 
the prisoners unharmed. 

Brought before the governor, Golovnin proclaimed himself solely 
responsible for the escape and challenged the Japanese to kill him, 
if they wished, but to let his men go unpunished. Dryly Arao re- 



marked that the Japanese would kill him without a request on his 
part, it they desired to do so; it not, all his pleas would be in vain. 
Arao denied that it was the intention of his countrymen to detain 
the captives permanently. lie asked how they had planned and 
executed their escape, seeking to establish whether any Japanese had 
been implicated. He asserted that their venture had been foolishly 
hopeless, but could not resist asking, what they would have said of 
the Japanese, had they succeeded after all, and inquired whether they 
were aware of the fact, that he and many other officials would have 
had to disembowel themselves, had they not been recaptured. 

Arao spoke without rancor. Had they been Japanese, they would 
have been subject to severe punishment; but they were foreigners; 
they had broken out of confinement not in order to harm the Japa- 
nese, but to return to their fatherland; his good opinion of them 
remained unchanged. 

Arao's personal feelings did not extend to the captives' accommo- 
dations. When they were led off to prison in the late afternoon, they 
found themselves incarcerated in three small cages inside a dark shed, 
bounded by wooden and earthen walls. The gate of the shed was 
boarded completely and, when it closed, there was total darkness, 
except when guards with lanterns entered for a check. Theirs was 
a normal Japanese prison, inhabited already by a sociable Japanese 
occupant in a fourth cage, but they were treated better than their 
Japanese mate and better, in fact, than criminals in many parts of 
Europe at that time. They suffered no physical abuse, and were 
cheered by gestures of compassion on the part of some of the guards, 
and by repeated assurances that, with time, their lot would improve 
and that chances for their repatriation were still good. What pained 
them most, was the collaboration of Mur with the Japanese. When 
Arao renewed his interrogation of Golovnin, he showed himself in- 
formed concerning the connection between Rezanov and Khvostov; 
he proved to be in possession of considerable information (and mis- 
information) about the voyage of the Diana, the aims of Golovnin, 
and the policies of Russia. All this he had learned from Mur who, 
like Aleksei, now lived apart from the other prisoners. Desperately, 
Golovnin tried to undermine Japanese trust in Mur, afraid that Mur 
alone might make his way back to Russia and deliberately distort 
the story of their captivity. It was with some relief, that the prisoners 
observed that, use Mur as the Japanese did, they were not attracted 
by his efforts, and retained their respect for Golovnin. 



On May 16, Arao asked the fugitives whether they pleaded guilty 
or not. Their first reaction was to shift blame for their escape onto 
the shoulders of the Japanese, who had lured them into the fortress, 
but when they saw that this line of argument merely antagonized the 
Japanese and, when the governor advised them that it would be to 
their advantage to plead guilty, they did so, Golovnin and Khlebnikov 
shouldering responsibility as officers. 54 

In mid-July Arao was succeeded as governor of Matsumae by 
Ogasawara, a giant by Japanese standards, but an affable personality, 
imbued with the wisdom of venerable age. He had the prisoners 
moved back to the house, where they had stayed upon their first 
arrival in Matsumae, with an adjoining, but separate, room with its 
own entrance, added for Mur and Aleksei. The prisoners received 
their books as well as writing materials. Golovnin and Khlebnikov 
whiled away time teaching their subordinates how to read and write, 
and compiled a Japanese vocabulary in Cyrillic letters. Golovnin 
also kept a secret diary, surreptitiously recording his experiences and 
thoughts on tiny scraps of paper in a melange of Russian, French and 
English words, abbreviated and interspersed with different signs, 
understandable only to himself. Treated well, the prisoners offered 
their jailors gifts of clothing and other tokens of appreciation. 

The captives were constantly called upon to translate documents 
of importance. On July 14, their first meeting with Ogasawara, they 
were shown a Russian paper, with a French translation attached, in 
which the Japanese were threatened with military action, if they 
persisted in their refusal to trade with Russia; addressed to the 
governor of Matsumae, but bearing no signature, the paper had 
evidently been left by Khvostov. On September 18, Golovnin and 
Mur were ordered to translate two Russian papers, just delivered 
from Kunashiri. Dated as recently as September 9, they turned out to 
be letters from Rikord; one addressed to the commander of Kuna- 
shiri, the other to Golovnin himself. In the former, Rikord identified 
himself and reported that he was returning with a number of 
Japanese castaways, among them the Matsumae merchant "Leon- 
zaimo" (Nakagawa Goroji, who had been kidnapped by Khvostov); 55 
he assured the commander that Russian intentions toward Japan 
were peaceful, and demanded whether the commander himself would 

s*Ibid., 2:1-47. 

55 Nakagawa Goroji told the Russians that his name was Ryozaemon, hence "Leon- 



release the captives and, if not, how soon a reply could be expected 
from the Japanese government; he warned that he would not leave, 
until he had received such a reply, and requested permission to get 
fresh water on shore. In the letter to Golovnin, Rikord announced 
his arrival at Kunashiri and told of the communication to the com- 
mander; anxious to know whether Golovnin was still alive, he asked 
that, if Golovnin was unable to reply in writing, he tear the letter 
at the line containing the word "alive" and return it with the Japa- 
nese, whom he had sent ashore. 

Golovnin was not permitted to reply and neither he nor Mur had 
the opportunity to mark the letter, as suggested by Rikord, and 
return it to their anxious countryman. Once again the Diana was at 
the shores of Japan, but, unless they could get word to Rikord that 
they were still alive, what chance did Golovnin and his fellow 
prisoners have of liberation? 56 

56 Golovnin, Zapiski, 2:48-73. 



p<"ip*^| he capture of Golovnin struck the Diana like a bolt out of 
^'[^ the blue sky. Through their telescopes, the officers and 
^'^ men left on board had followed his reception on shore with 


satisfaction, and, when he and those who accompanied him, 
disappeared into the fortress, had turned to their preparations for 
the festive reception of the Japanese officials aboard ship. They could 
hardly believe their eyes, as gunfire and screams suddenly filled the 
air, and they saw the Japanese rush out of the fortress, take posses- 
sion of the Russian boat, and drag away the sailor and Ainu tending it. 

For a moment Lieutenant Commander Petr Rikord, the senior 
officer aboard ship, was stunned. Then, weighing anchor, he moved 
in menacingly toward the shore. The Japanese batteries opened fire 
and the Diana reciprocated with some one hundred and seventy 
rounds, but shallow water prevented the vessel from drawing close 
enough to do any significant damage to the thick earthen wall and 
the Japanese works beyond. Only fifty-one in number, the Russians 
could not attempt an assault landing without inviting Japanese cap- 
ture or destruction of their vessel. There was little they could do 
but return to Okhotsk for reinforcements. They wrote Golovnin a 
letter, explaining this, put it in a barrel and dropped the barrel 
overboard. The Japanese seemed willing to exchange messages, for in 
the morning they too put a barrel in the water. But when the Rus- 
sians set out in a boat to retrieve it, they discovered that it was 
merely bait for another trap: a rope had been attached to the barrel 
and almost imperceptibly the Japanese were pulling it toward shore. 
The Russians returned to the Diana and, on July 26, having landed 
clothing, linen, books, razors, and other personal belongings of the 
captives at a deserted village of the promontory, quitted Gizo (Sen- 
pekotan) Bay, renamed by them for posterity Zaliv Izmeny — The 
Bay of Deceit. 

At Okhotsk Rikord conferred with the port commandant, Captain 
Manitskii, a mutual friend of Rikord and Golovnin since their 
days of service with the British navy, then set out for St. Petersburg 
to make a personal report to the Minister of the Navy. When he 
reached Irkutsk, Governor Nikolai Treskin informed him that, on 



word from Manitskii, he had already written to the government re- 
questing authorization for an expedition to liberate Golovnin. 
Rikord, therefore, did not continue to the capital, but remained 
in Irkutsk. The plans for an elaborate expedition, which he worked 
out together with Treskin and submitted to Ivan Pestel, Governor 
General of Siberia, however, failed to meet imperial approval, since 
Russia was just then absorbed in a life-and-death struggle with 
Napoleon Bonaparte— it was in September of 1812 that Moscow 
erupted in flames, and the French did not begin their ignominious 
retreat until October 19. Instead, Rikord was ordered merely to 
resume the interrupted surveys, stopping by at Kunashiri to inquire 
after the fate of the captives. 1 

Accompanied by Nakagawa Goroji, who had been brought to 
him in Irkutsk, Rikord hurried back to Okhotsk by carriage and 
reindeer. On August 3, he put out to sea on the Diana with the 
transport brig Zotik. The Dianas complement had been reinforced 
by one petty officer and ten men; 2 on board also were Nakagawa and 
six recent castaways, whom Rikord hoped to exchange for his captive 
shipmates. The victim of Khvostov's transgressions, Nakagawa lost 
no opportunity to thwart Russian efforts. While still in Russia, he 
had made several attempts to escape and on two occasions had 
managed to destroy maps and documents relating to Japan. Rikord 
had obtained a paper from the governor of Irkutsk, in which the 
latter reviewed the circumstances of Golovnin's voyage and capture. 
The paper declared that Japanese castaways, shipwrecked off Kam- 
chatka, were being repatriated as proof of the friendliness of Rus- 
sian intentions toward Japan, and expressed the hope that Golovnin 
and his fellow-captives, having done no harm to anyone, would be 
released in exchange. At the same time it warned that, if the Russian 
prisoners were not returned at this time, either because permission 
had not been received from the Japanese government or for other 
reasons, Russian men-of-war would come again the following year 
to demand their release. When Rikord asked Nakagawa, who under- 
stood some Russian, to draft a short letter in Japanese on the basis 

1 Petr Ivanovich Rikord, Zapiski Flota Kapitana Rikorda o plavanii ego k iaponskim 
beregam 1-13. An English translation of this may be found in Golownin, Memoirs, II, 
227-356 I have consulted this translation, but have found it inaccurate and incomplete 
in places; my text is based on the original Russian version, as republished m 1875 by 
the widow of Rikord. 

2 The Zotik was commanded by Lieutenant Filatov, formerly of the Diana; another 
shipmate, Lieutenant Iakushkin, had left Rikord to take command of the Okhotsk 
transport Pavel. 



of this paper to the commander of Kunashiri, Nakagawa produced 
a sheet so thoroughly covered with writing that Rikord suspected 
that Nakagawa had added something of his own. Challenged, Naka- 
gawa admitted that he had really written three notes: one about the 
proposed exchange of prisoners, one concerning the shipwreck of 
the castaways, and one about his own misfortunes. When Rikord 
asked that Nakagawa provide him with copies of these notes, Naka- 
gawa dutifully copied the first. Taking a knife, he then cut off the 
lines he had added on his own, and, with a look of defiance, put the 
paper in his mouth and literally swallowed his own words. The 
prospect of having to depend on such a man in negotiations with 
the Japanese was discouraging. 3 

On September 9, the Russians were back in the Bay of Deceit. 
A new battery of fourteen guns had been erected; striped curtains 
hid most of the buildings from sight; all boats had been pulled up 
on shore; an unnatural silence had ominously settled over the 
countryside. Casting anchor some two miles from shore, Rikord 
sent the castaway Emokichi with the letter to the commander of 
the island. When Emokichi failed to return, Rikord sent the cast- 
away Chugoro ashore. At first his note was not accepted by the 
Japanese, but on a second try commander Ota Hikosuke received 
Rikord's communication and invited Rikord to a conference in 
town. This Rikord could not risk; neither would Ota venture aboard 
the Diana. Reluctantly, Rikord found it necessary to rely on Naka- 
gawa, and, on September 16, sent him ashore to negotiate with the 
commander. If prevented from returning, he was to send back 
through the castaway, who accompanied him, one of the three notes, 
which Rikord handed him: "Lieutenant Commander Golovnin and 
the others are on Kunashiri"; "Lieutenant Commander Golovnin 
and the others have been taken to Matsumae City, Nagasaki, Edo"; 
"Lieutenant Commander Golovnin and the others have been killed." 
Returning in person, Nakagawa announced curtly: "Lieutenant Com- 
mander Golovnin and the others have been killed." But Rikord did 
not trust Nakagawa sufficiently to open hostilities without further 
evidence, and he sent Nakagawa ashore again to obtain written con- 
firmation. This time Nakagawa did not return. 

3 Neither Golovnin nor Rikord give the text of Rikord's letter. A Japanese version is 
cited by Segawa (158-159). Ironically, it is possible that Nakagawa might have been 
released shortly after capture — as were some of his countrymen — had he not boosted 
his usefulness in Russian eyes by falsely representing himself as an official of some im- 
portance. (Abe, 25-31) 



On September 18, the Russians captured a Japanese boat, but its 
passengers, diving overboard, managed to escape, except three — 
two Japanese and one Ainu — from whom Rikord failed to extract 
anything intelligible. More fortunate was the interception the follow- 
ing day of the Kanze Maru, a much larger Japanese ship, since they 
captured not only many members of the crew, but Takadaya Kahei, 
the captain himself. 4 

Takadaya Kahei was a man of wealth, prestige, and influence. A 
native of Awaji Province in south-central Japan, he had been active 
for years in commerce and navigation in different regions of the Jap- 
anese Empire, but especially in the north, where he had contributed 
to the extension of Japanese administration to the Kuril Islands. 
Since the beginning of the nineteenth century, he had established 
himself in Hakodate, and he had been on his way from Etorofu to 
this city with a cargo of dried fish as well as official dispatches 
(which he managed to throw overboard), when the Kanze Maru was 

On board the Diana, Takadaya replied straightforwardly to 
Rikord's halting questions in broken Japanese, but his assertion, upon 
seeing the text of Nakagawa's note to the commander of Kunashiri, 
that Lieutenant Commander Mur and five Russians were in the 
city of Matsumae, was bewildering. Was Takadaya telling the truth 
or was he contradicting Nakagawa merely to save his own life? What 
had happened to Golovnin? Was it possible that Takadaya should 
have heard of Mur and not of Golovnin? 5 

The men of the Diana clamored for revenge, especially since 
some of them claimed to recognize in Takadaya an official, whom 
they had seen on Kunashiri the year before. But as long as there 
was a change that Takadaya's assertion, that some of the captives 
were still alive, was true, Rikord could not endanger their safety 
by rash action, and he decided to withdraw to Kamchatka, taking 
along Takadaya, whose rich silken apparel, sword, and general bear- 
ing testified that he was of considerably higher status and education 
than any Japanese, who had hitherto visited Russia. Takadaya him- 

4 Rikord, Zapiski, 13-27; Segawa, 159-165; Tokutomi, xxiv, 291-292. Russian source* 
refer to Takadaya as Takatai-Kakhi. 

5 In point of fact, it is quite possible that Takadaya had never heard of Golovnin 
by name, or at least not in a way resembling its Russian pronunciation. Shogunate 
officials referred to Golovnin as "Owarin," and Japanese documents rendered his 
name also "Kabitan Koroin" (not visibly separated in Japanese) and "Koroin." (Se- 
gawa, 169.) 



self made no objections, and only tried to dissuade Rikord from 
detaining four of his seamen in place of the four scurvy-ridden cast- 
aways, whom he had put ashore, arguing in vain that they were 
"stupid" and "extremely afraid of the Russians." Soon curiosity 
conquered fear, however, and the four attendants and their master 
seemed fairly at home on board the Russian man-of-war. 6 

Takadaya's shipmates were anxious to have a closer look at the 
strangers. One of Takadaya's passengers was a woman. 7 Invited into 
Rikord's cabin, she was delighted to find another female, the young 
wife of the junior doctor. The two ladies — the first Russians and 
Japanese of their sex to meet — discussed no weighty matters of state, 
but compared make-up, tried on each other's fineries, and embraced 
and kissed each other. To the Japanese woman the white complexion 
of the foreigner seemed most attractive, but the Russians were no 
less impressed by her own appearance— her lengthy brownish face, 
her sparkling dark eyes, small mouth, and black-lacquered teeth, 
her daintily painted eyebrows, pleasant speech, and lavish dress. At 
Takadaya's request, the crew of the Kanze Maru was given a chance 
to explore the Russian warship. Amazed, the Japanese seamen 
wandered about the deck of the Diana, their curiosity whetted with 
vodka. They examined the mechanism of the running rigging, ad- 
mired the way in which Russian sailors scampered out upon the 
yards or up to the mast-head, and bartered some of their belongings 
for buttons, kerchiefs, and other Russian trifles. 

Meanwhile Rikord had shown Takadaya a copy of the letter writ- 
ten by Nakagawa, and had asked him to prepare another to the 
Japanese authorities, informing them, among other things, that he 
planned to take Takadaya to Kamchatka, but would return with him 
the following year. 8 The letter was sent ashore with Takadaya's 

e Rikord, Zapiski, 27-33; Tokutomi, xxiv, 291-294; Watanabe Shujiro, Nichi-Ro kosho 
Takadaya Kahei, 27-34. 

7 Segawa disputes the implication made by Rikord that the Japanese woman was 
Takadaya's mistress. He notes that Takadaya had a mistress in Hakodate whom he 
took sightseeing often as well as another mistress in later years, as well as a number of 
girl friends, but doubts that he would have taken a mistress on this voyage. Segawa 
identifies the woman as the wife of Kakueimon, a Japanese official serving on Etorofu. 
Whether Kakueimon himself was on the vessel is not clear. Rikord notes that there were 
sixty Japanese aboard the Kanze Maru, but Segawa limits the number to forty-six, 
counting Takadaya. Of these, nine drowned when they jumped into the sea to escape 
the Russians. Five, including Takadaya, were taken aboard the Diana. Among the 
thirty-two others, whose names are known, Kakueimon is not listed. If he was aboard, 
he must have been one of those who drowned. (Segawa, 178; Rikord, Zapiski, 28.) 

s For the text of these letters see Segawa, 170-173. 



female companion, but no reply was received. Nor did the sociabil- 
ity of Takadaya's men, who departed in an amicable spirit, extend 
to the samurai on shore; and once, when a Russian boat had ap- 
proached the land, and now, when the vessels hoisted sails, the shore 
batteries opened fire. But the ships were safely out of range, and the 
Russians only laughed at the Japanese salvos, as they headed out to 
sea. Even Takadaya felt constrained to laugh and commented, "Kuna- 
shiri is a bad place for the Russians; Nagasaki is better." 9 

On October 15, the Diana and Zotik returned to Petropavlovsk 
Harbor, having named the strait between Matsuwa and Raikoke Is- 
land, in memory of their captive commander. Throughout the stormy 
twenty-two day crossing, Takadaya stayed close to Rikord, who man- 
aged eventually to extract from him the news that Golovnin was 
still alive. He was flattered to be allowed to share Rikord's cabin. 
Upon arrival in Petropavlovsk, he was not confined in the way his 
own countrymen had confined Golovnin, but was permitted to remain 
with Rikord and was treated by everyone with sympathy and kind- 
ness. Takadaya reacted with enthusiasm. He plunged into the study 
of Russian and, before the winter had ended, he and Rikord, who 
knew a little Japanese, were able to communicate quite intelligibly. 
When Rikord bemoaned the misunderstandings that had arisen be- 
tween their countries, Takadaya exclaimed: "I perceive in my mis- 
fortune Providence, which has chosen me for its instrument. With- 
out important reasons for going to Kunashiri Bay, I entered there 
by chance, not having been in it for more than five years, and thereby 
caused you to desist from your determined intention of attacking 
the settlement; consequently I became the savior of the lives of sev- 
eral tens of Russians and several hundreds of Japanese. This thought 
animates me. ..." Takadaya reported that when Rezanov had arrived 
in Nagasaki all the inhabitants of Japan had rejoiced at rumors 
that commercial relations would be established with Russia and 
that there had been great displeasure when the Japanese government 
had rebuffed the ambassador. He himself still favored trade between 
the two countries. Again and again he expressed the desire to act 
as go-between in the rapprochement of the two nations. Upon his 
return to Japan he would describe the land of his captors as it had 
never been described before by a Japanese; he would assure his 
countrymen that the Russians had never harbored hostile intentions 

9 Rikord, Zapiski, 28-37. 



against Japan. To be sure, the military strength and fortifications of 
Petropavlovsk did not escape his attention and he recorded every 
detail in his diary, but he flattered himself that these were purely 
defensive — to protect Russia against Japanese retaliation for the 
raids of Khvostov. As the ultimate gesture of his goodwill and sin- 
cerity, Takadaya offered his life as pledge that the Russian captives 
in Japan would be freed if negotiations were entered upon in Naga- 

It must not be assumed that Takadaya acted merely out of gratitude 
for being treated better than he had feared; nor was he motivated 
primarily by concern for his own liberation. There is no evidence 
that he had become enamored of the Russian way of life and hoped 
to propagate it in Japan. On the contrary, he devoted much effort 
to explain the ways of his countrymen to the Russians in as favor- 
able a light as possible. His willingness to aid the Russians stemmed 
from the conviction that war between the two countries must be 
avoided in the interest of Japan. He insisted that Japanese recourse 
to arms had been purely defensive and that the Japanese would free 
the captives, if the governor of Irkutsk would certify in writing 
that the Russian government had not participated in the aggression 
of Khvostov. As an enterprising businessman, active in the northern 
regions of Japan, he must have been attracted also by the opportu- 
nities, which trade with Russia held out both for Japan as a whole and 
for himself. But there can be no doubt about his desire to return 
to Japan. Japanese historians have never questioned Takadaya's 
loyalty, but have praised his conduct as creditable and honorable, 
and have suggested that he had been inspired by the loyaltv of the 
forty-seven ronin, the greatest of national heroes. 

It was a long and harsh winter. Two of Takadaya's attendants, 
Kichizo and Bunji, died of beri-beri and asthma and a third, Kinzo 
was sick. Affected by the death of his countrymen, Takadaya 
began to brood. He complained of weak health and claimed that 
the scurvy festering in his feet would kill him. Though it was pri- 
marily homesickness that ailed Takadaya, Rikord realized that the 
liberation of Golovnin and possibly the establishment of commercial 
relations with Japan hinged on his safe return, and he decided to 
take Takadaya back to Japan as soon as weather permitted. In spring 
the letter from the governor of Irkutsk to the governor of Matsumae, 
which Takadaya had suggested, arrived, and, on May 18, 1813, 
Rikord cut his way through the ice and put out to sea. The Diana 



sailed alone, the Zotik having been wrecked at the coast of Kam- 
chatka the preceding year. 

Toward the middle of June, 1813, the Diana cast anchor in the 
Bay of Deceit. Takadaya thought of going ashore to negotiate with 
local officials concerning the release of the captives, but for fear 
that his star captive be detained, Rikord dispatched Heizo and 
Kinzo in his stead. When Takadaya refused to promise that his 
subordinates would return Rikord could not control his irritation. 
"Tell the commander of Kunashiri from me," he instructed the 
two Japanese, "that if he will detain you on shore and will not send 
me any news about the fate of the Russian captives, I shall have to 
consider this a hostile act, and will take your commander with me 
to Okhotsk, from where this very summer several warships will 
come to demand by force the release of the Russian captives. I await 
an answer within three days." Takadaya was greatly offended. Stiffly 
he observed: "Commander of the imperial vessel, you counsel 
rashly; your message to the commander of Kunashiri through my 
sailors contains much, yet according to our laws little. In vain you 
threaten to carry me away to Okhotsk. If the commandant should 
decide to detain my two sailors on land, not two nor even two 
thousand sailors can take my place. At the same time I warn you 
that it will not be in your power to take me away to Okhotsk; but 
of this later. Now tell me whether you have really decided to let 
my sailors ashore under these conditions?" When Rikord replied 
that he could not do otherwise, Takadaya withheld from Heizo and 
Kinzo the written message he had intended to send ashore and gave 
them new and detailed oral instructions. Then he took out his re- 
ligious image and, after a while of silent prayer, asked one of his 
men to deliver it to his wife, entrusting to him likewise his long 
sword for transmission to his only son and heir. Finally Takadaya 
and his men exchanged drinks. Then Heizo and Kinzo were taken 
ashore in a boat, and set out for the settlement. 

Rikord had followed Takadaya's words attentively. He had been 
cheered by the favorable light in which Takadaya had reviewed 
his treatment at the hands of the Russians. But Takadaya's curt 
and challenging remarks, the abandonment of his most prized pos- 
sessions, and the manner of his parting with his subordinates alarmed 
him. He had no illusions about the return of the two seamen. He 
could of course prevent Takadaya from returning to Japan, but 
could he prevent him from laying hands on himself? After much 



reflection Rikord came to the conclusion that it was safer to risk 
the loss of Takadaya as hostage by releasing him than by detaining 
him, and informed him that he was free to go ashore anytime, add- 
ing that he was relying on his magnanimity; if he did not return, 
it would cost him his own life. 

"I understand," Takadaya replied "You cannot go back to Okhotsk 
without a written certificate concerning the fate of all Russian cap- 
tives; nor can I suffer the slightest stain on my honor, other than 
at the cost of my life. I thank you for your confidence, but even 
before, I did not intend to go ashore on the same day with my 
sailors; this, by our custom would not befit me; but tomorrow in 
the morning, if it is all right with you, order that I be taken ashore 


"No need to give orders," retorted Rikord, "I will convey you 


"And so we are friends again!" exclaimed Takadaya joyfully. 
Then he confessed that he had been wounded by Rikord's irate 
message to the commander of Kunashiri. The threat of warships 
had not concerned him, but the threat of his being taken back to 
Okhotsk had implied that he was being likened to the deceiver Naka- 
gawa. "Our national honor does not permit a man of my rank to 
be a prisoner in a foreign country, yet such you wished to make of 
me, when you announced your intention of carrying me away with 
you to Okhotsk." To Kamchatka, he had accompanied the Russians 
of his own will. "As you were stronger, I was in your hands, but my 
life was always in my own power. After all this I disclose to you the 
secret of my intentions: seeing you unshakable in your undertaking, 
I had firmly resolved to commit suicide. As proof of its execution, I 
cut off a tuft of hair on my head, [he showed a bald spot,] and laid 
it into the box of my religious image. This, according to our laws, 
signified that he who sends his own hair has taken his life honorably, 
that is to say has ripped open his bowels. The hair is then buried 
with the same ceremonial which would be observed in case of the 
corpse itself. As you call me friend, I will hide nothing from you: 
so great was my wrath, that I even wanted to kill you and your 
senior officer, and then have the consolation of announcing this to 
your crewl" 10 

loSegawa, 186-217; Rikord, Zapiski, si'il- R*ord does not mention Takadaya's desire 
to go ashore. He writes that the two Japanese were sent ashore on Takadaya s sug- 



A cold shiver ran down Rikord's spine. To think that he had 
shared his cabin with Takadaya! He could not resist wondering why 
Takadaya, if he did seek revenge, had not planned to destroy the 
whole ship by igniting the powder magazine. "And blow everybody 
up?" Takadaya retorted. "No, my friend, that I knew, but what 
bravery is there in that? To my way of thinking, to take revenge 
in such underhand manner is characteristic for small, timid souls; 
you don't imagine that I, who respect you as a brave commander, 
would have killed you in your sleep? I thought it superfluous to 
expound on this, but as you consider it great to take revenge by 
blowing up the ship, you probably thought that I intended to kill 
you stealthily. No! I would have set about the task with a formal 
challenge." Rikord understood that these were no idle boasts, that 
Takadaya, for all his friendliness, was first of all Japanese, determined 
to safeguard the honor of his country. Rikord had always respected 
Takadaya. This new display of bravery and sincerity endeared Taka- 
daya in his esteem more than ever. 

When Rikord and Takadaya went ashore, they were met by Heizo 
and Kinzo, who reported that the commander of Kunashiri had 
received them well, though he had not allowed them to retain any 
Russian objects, which they now brought back, wrapped in a bundle. 
Rikord was permitted to take on water at the rivulet, on condition 
that his men would not cross to the other side, facing the settlement. 
He was informed that three dignitaries — two of whom Takadaya 
recognized by name as good friends — had hastened there following 
the appearance of Russian ships and that the commander of Kuna- 
shiri was eager to meet with Takadaya. When Rikord was handed a 
box with papers, Takadaya took it from him and three times raised it 
above his head in respect. "Everything is favorable for us! I say us, 
because according to my feelings I am half-Russian," he commented, 
and added, "It will be very good, if you will permit me to take this 
box back to the commander; tomorrow without delay I shall return it 
to you: this our ceremonial demands." For a second, doubt flashed 
through Rikord's mind, but he brushed it aside, took out a handker- 
chief, cut it in two and handing one of the halves to Takadaya, said, 
"He who is my friend will bring me the other half of my handker- 
chief in a day or two, not later than in three." Takadaya promised 
to return the very next morning and vowed that death alone could 
prevent him from coming. 



The Japanese had expected the Russians to return, and a letter 
signed by Takahashi Sampei and Kojimoto Hyogoro, examiners of 
the governor of Matsumae, had been sent to Matsumae. Reviewing 
Russian actions, it stated that the captives would be released, if an 
official explanation of the Khvostov incident were received. This 
was the letter which had been delivered to Rikord, and Takadaya 
carried it with him to the Kunashiri office, where he met with the 
Matsumae officials Masuda Kingoro and Ota Hikosuke, reporting 
to them his amazing experiences, and advocating peace between 
Russia and Japan. The officials carefully recorded everything and 
sent a special messenger to Matsumae. 11 

True to his promise, Takadaya returned the following day with 
the happy tidings that the Russian captives were alive and, except 
for Khlebnikov, who had been ill for some time, in good health. 
In reply to the commander of Kunashiri, who had forwarded the 
papers from Matsumae, Rikord sent a note in which he acknowledged 
their receipt, reiterated his government's innocence in Khvostov's 
raids and, on Takadaya's suggestion, offered to sail to Hakodate, if 
two Japanese could accompany him to facilitate contact with shore. 12 
When Takadaya returned once again, he reported that Rikord's 
proposal, like the letter he had sent upon arrival at Kunashiri, had 
been forwarded to Matsumae, where they were translated with the 
aid of the captives. Hereafter Takadaya moved freely back and forth 
between ship and shore, supplying the Russians with information 
and food. He maintained that his own abduction had been fully 
justified in view of Nakagawa's assertion that Golovnin and his fel- 
low-captives had been slain. In this connection, he reported that 
Nakagawa had not wittingly deceived Rikord, but had himself been 
misinformed by the commander, who tried to goad the Russians into 
an attack in order to avenge himself for the humiliating raids of 
Khvostov. Without doubt Russian determination and fire power 
would have resulted in the frightful slaughter of his troops; but the 
entire garrison, some three hundred men strong, had cut tufts of 
their hair in a vow to fight to the death, their grim anticipation 
lightened by plans to poison all the liquor, for which, in the past, 
the victorious seamen had shown a strong passion. 

On August 1, Takadaya brought a note in Golovnin's handwriting, 

11 Rikord, Zapiski, 47-53; Segawa, 223-227; Akaba Sozo, "Takahashi Sampei no Kuna- 
shiri toko/' 1 1 : 9-10. 

12 For a Japanese version of the letter, see Segawa, 232-233. 



which the Japanese authorities had sent to the various places, where 
they thought the Russians might come. Dated May 22, 1813, and 
signed jointly by (iolovnin and Mur, it stated simply but eloquently: 
"We all, officers as well as sailors and the Kurilian Aleksei, are alive 
and are staying in Matsumae." This note and the fact that the 
authorities did not restrict Takadaya, as they had earlier repatriates, 
and even smuggled him a letter from his son, the touching contents 
of which he shared with the Russians, were cause for mutual elation, 
and when he left ship that day the sailors saluted him with a rousing 
"Ural" 13 

On August 7, Takahashi Sampei, who was next in rank to the 
governor of Matsumae and who, it will be recalled, had signed the 
letter transmitted to Rikord, arrived on the governor's own official 
vessel, the Choshu Muni, accompanied by the censor Ibara Ryohei, 
by Uehara Kumajiro, eight followers, the Russian sailor Simanov, 
and Aleksei. But though he now took charge of dealings with Rikord, 
Takahashi decided upon consultation with Masuda Kingoro, Ota 
Hikosuke, and Takadaya, to leave the negotiations themselves in 
the hands of the latter. 

On August 8, Takadaya brought Simanov aboard the Diana. 1 " 1 
Boundless was the joy of reunion; sweet the confirmation that the 
other captives were alive. While the sailors besieged their shipmate 
with questions, Takadaya, in Rikord's cabin, read a message from 
Takahashi, in which the official declared that his dispatch by the 
governor of Matsumae in response to Rikord's letter was an expression 
of respect for Rikord's high position as commandant of Kamchatka. 
He had come to convey the conditions under which the prisoners 
would be freed. He sympathized with the hardships which events of 
the previous year and the return voyage to Kunashiri had entailed, 
and promised that Simanov, whom he had brought along, could visit 
the vessel daily, provided he slept on shore. Expressing regret that the 
laws of Japan did not permit him to confer with Rikord directly, he 
stated that Takadaya had been appointed negotiator and begged that 
the Russians trust him. The conditions, which had to be met before 
the release of the captives, were: (1) the presentation of an official 

is Golovnin, Zapiski, 2: 96; Rikord, Zapiski, 54-62. 

1 4 Segawa, 231; Akaba, "Takahashi," 11: 11-12; 12: 18-19; Rikord, Zapiski, 62. Japa- 
nese dates do not match here. Segawa differs by some three weeks, giving the date of 
the meeting, for example, as the twenty-first day of the sixth lunar month which 
would have been July 19th. 


certificate, testifying that the actions of Khvostov had been without 
the authorization or knowledge of the Russian government; (2) the 
return of the armor, arrows, muskets, cannons, and other para- 
phernalia of war plundered by Khvostov, for fear they might be 
regarded in the future as trophies wrested from Japan, or, should 
they have been removed to faraway places, presentation of a certifi- 
cate, stating that no such objects could be found in Okhotsk. Taka- 
hashi wrote that it was the opinion of the Japanese government 
that Takadaya had accompanied Rikord voluntarily; the official 
Japanese paper did not take cognizance of his capture. He expressed 
the hope that Rikord would find it possible that very year to bring 
the required certificates from Okhotsk to Hakodate, where he and 
Kojimoto Hyogoro would accept them in person with due cere- 
monial, and assuring him of his cooperation in seeking the release 
of the captives, wished the Diana good speed. 15 

Important as the communication was, it sorely vexed Rikord's 
patience. At the first opportunity he excused himself and stepped 
into another cabin to talk to the released sailor in private. No sooner 
was Simanov alone with Rikord, than he tore open the seam of his 
collar and took out a carefully folded letter from Golovnin. Fever- 
ishly Rikord began to read: 

Dearest Friend P. I.: 

It seems that the Japanese are beginning to understand the whole truth 
of our affair, and are becoming convinced in the peace loving intentions 
of our government, as well as in the fact that the actions of Khvostov had 
been unauthorized, without the knowledge of the authorities and to the 
great displeasure of the Sovereign; but they need for this the formal 
assurance from the commander of some province and region of ours with 
the state seal affixed. There is hope that, having assured themselves of the 
friendly disposition of Russia toward them, they will enter into com- 
mercial relations with us, as they now have begun to understand the 
knavish actions of the Dutch: we told them of the letter intercepted by 
the English in which the Dutch translators brag that they have succeeded 
in Nagasaki to embroil Rezanov with the Japanese. But when you enter 
into dealings with the Japanese, be careful, and do not negotiate other 
than on boats, beyond gunshot from shore. When doing so, be not disap- 
pointed by the slowness of the Japanese in decisions and replies; we know 
that in their country their own unimportant matters, which in Europe 
would be terminated in a day or two, drag out for a month and more. 
In general I advise you not to lose sight of four main things: to be care- 
ful, to be patient, to observe courtesy and to be frank. 

ip Rikord, Zapiski, 63-67. 



On the wisdom of your actions depends not only our liberation, but 
also considerable benefit for the fatherland; I hope that our present mis- 
fortune may return to Russia that advantage which it lost because of the 
mad temper and recklessness of one man; but if, contrary to expectation, 
events will take a different turn, gather my opinion on this subject as 
correctly, detailedly, and thoroughly as possible from the sailor sent, and 
convey it to the government; circumstances did not permit to burden the 
bearer with papers, and therefore it is impossible for me myself to write 
to the minister. But know, where the honor of the Sovereign and well- 
being of the fatherland demand it, I do not value my life a kopeck, and 
therefore you too must not spare me in such a case: it is all the same 
whether one dies now or ten or twenty years later; it is likewise all the 
same, in my opinion, whether one be killed in battle or by a villainous 
hand, whether one drowns in the sea or peacefully dies in bed: death is 
death though its forms be different. I ask you my dear friend, to write 
for me to my brothers and friends; maybe providence has ordained that 
I shall see them again, maybe — not; tell them that in the latter case they 
do not grieve and do not pity me, and that I wish them health and 
happiness. Further I beg you for Heaven's sake, do not permit anyone 
to write to us and do not send anything, that we be not tormented with 
translations and questions, but write me yourself about your decision a 
very small letter. I ask you to give the sailor, who has been sent, five 
hundred rubles from the estate left by me. My sincere respects to our 
comrades, the officers, my salute to the crew; I greatly appreciate and 
thank you all for the great pains which you have taken for our liberation. 
Farewell, dear friend, P. I., and all of you, dear friends! Perhaps this is 
my last letter to you; be healthy, in peace, and happy. Your devoted 

Vasilii Golovnin 
April 10 [22], 1813. In the city of Hakodate, in a Japanese prison. 16 

In the evening Takadaya and Simanov were taken back ashore. 
Successful as Simanov had been in delivering the secret letter, he 
had failed to make the intended oral amplifications concerning the 
place where, if necessary, an attack should be launched, for, how- 
ever carefully Golovnin had coached him, Simanov was not very 
bright and was so shaken with the joy of seeing his shipmates and 
with fear for the fate of his fellow captives, that nothing of value 
could be gotten from him. But Rikord was not distressed, despite 
Golovnin's admonitions against Japanese duplicity, and was con- 
vinced that, in Takadaya, he had a man on whose "noble chest" he 
could lean "like on solid rock." Through Takadaya he sent a reply 
to Takahashi in which he wrote that, weather permitting, the Diana 
would leave for Okhotsk the following day to return the same year 

wibid., 68-69; Golovnin, Zapiski, 2: 93-94. Judging from the remark that Simanov 
be given money from his estate, Golovnin seems to have assumed that Simanov was 
being released completely. 



to Hakodate with all the certificates and explanations demanded by 
the Japanese government. He was unfamiliar with the entrance to 
Hakodate Bay, and asked, therefore, that the Japanese furnish him 
with a pilot at Edomo, of which he had a description by Broughton. 
Finally, he expressed appreciation for Takahashi's friendly disposi- 
tion and especially for making possible the meeting with the captive 
sailor. Through Takadaya Rikord also forwarded letters to Golovnin 
and Mur, congratulating them on their impending liberation and 
hinting in the letter to Golovnin that his secret message had been 
received. When Takadaya and Simanov came aboard again the fol- 
lowing day to bid farewell to their friends, Takadaya refused not 
only to accept any gifts, but insisted that his own belongings remain 
on ship, partly to avoid excessive questioning, partly as a token of 
his confidence that they would meet again in Hakodate. 

As planned, the Diana departed on August io, 17 and after a safe 
and pleasant journey of fifteen days cast anchor in Okhotsk Harbor. 
Rikord duly reported the Japanese demands, and soon received a 
friendly letter of explanation from the governor of Irkutsk to the 
governor of Matsumae and the required certificate from the com- 
mandant of Okhotsk. He was also assigned the services of a "Russian" 
interpreter: Fedr Stepanovich Kiselev, the former castaway Zenroku. 

In Japan, meanwhile, Takahashi returned to Matsumae and 
reported to Governor Hattori Sadakatsu, Lord of Bungo. Consulting 
with Shikano Sadayasu, Hattori ordered Takahashi to take charge 
of military and other preparations for the Russian visit to Hakodate 
and named Kinzo and Heizo, the attendants of Takadaya, as pilots for 
the Diana, Heizo being sent to meet the vessel at Edomo. More 
important, Governor Hattori called Golovnin and his fellow-captives 
before him, treated them to dinner, and releasing them from con- 
finement in Matsumae, sent them with an escort to Hakodate, where 
they anxiously awaited the return of Rikord. 18 

On August 23, the Diana set out on her third visit to Japan. Due 

17 The Russian text gives the date of departure as July 9 (21). This is a misprint. 
As the English version testifies, he left on July 29 (August 10). Between August 10 
and September 22, Rikord's reckoning becomes inaccurate. He claims that the trip 
lasted fifteen days. This would return the Diana to Okhotsk Harbor on August 
24 or 25, depending on whether the day of departure is counted. He then asserts that 
the vessel remained in Okhotsk for eighteen days. This would mean that the vessel 
departed from Okhotsk between September 10 and 12. Yet Rikord specifically dates the 
Diana's departure as August 23. He notes that the vessel voyaged twenty days before 
sighting Volcano Island (Edomo Bay). This would be, counting from August 23, Sep- 
tember 11 or 12, rather than September 22, as specified. The dates given by me in the 
text, therefore, are those specifically identified by Rikord. 

isSegawa, 232-236; Rikord, Zapiski, 69-72; Golovnin, Zapiski, 2: 99-100. 



to the lateness of the season, it was a hazardous journey, and the 
vessel was prevented by storms from entering Edomo Bay, until the 
morning of October 4, alter losing a sailor in the heavy seas. On a 
native boat with thirteen Ainu oarsmen, Heizo 18 came out to an- 
nounce that he had been assigned to pilot the vessel to Hakodate. 
While the Diana lay to in Edomo Harbor, replenishing supplies, 
Rikord inquired, why it was that a common sailor had replaced 
Takadaya as guide, but a handwritten note from Golovnin, recom- 
mending Heizo as a trustworthy pilot and promising that Takadaya 
would join the vessel outside Hakodate, allayed his suspicions, and 
indeed, when the Diana neared Hakodate Bay on the evening of 
October 9, a beaming Takadaya climbed aboard, accompanied by 
the chief port official. While the vessel cast anchor for the night just 
outside the bay, at Yamase-tomari (Back-of-the-mountain Harbor), 20 
where Japanese vessels usually stopped when an easterly wind pre- 
vented their entry into Hakodate Harbor, Rikord and Takadaya 
exchanged news, their conversation facilitated for once by the pres- 
ence of an interpreter. From Takadaya, the Russians learned that 
the captives had been moved to Hakodate and that the governor of 
Matsumae himself had come there to effect their release. Takadaya, 
in turn, was brought up to date about events in Europe, especially 
about the defeat of Napoleon. When he finally returned ashore, a 
Japanese guard boat remained at anchor near the Russians, while 
guard fires illuminated the shore. 21 

In the morning, Takadaya directed the Diana to a favorable 
anchorage, less than a cannon shot from the city. A guard boat was 
placed at the side of the Russian warship, and the Russians were 
not to venture about in boats any more than the townspeople of 
Hakodate were to visit the vessel. But the novelty of a foreign man- 
of-war was irresistible, and curious men and women flocked along- 
side on rowboats of every sort, disregarding the shouts and commands 
of the Japanese guards, until at last the latter with their iron sticks 
literally beat the sight-seers back to a respectable distance. Only 
Japanese on official business were permitted to pull up to the 
Russian ship. 

19 Rikord referred to Heizo as Lezo. 

20 Segawa thus gives the place name in Japanese characters; Rikord gives it as "Imasi- 
Tomuri"; Golovnin as "Yamasee-Tomuree." 

21 Rikord, Zapiski, 73-79; Golovnin, Zapiski, 2: 118-119; Segawa, 237-238; Nakamura 
Zentaro, Chishima Karafuto shinryaku-shi, 88-89. 



On the morning of October 11, Takadaya appeared with a change 
of clothing, and asked Rikord for permission to go to his old cabin 
to don ceremonial garb, as he had been appointed official negotiator. 
When Takadaya changed, Rikord followed his example, and received 
him in full dress uniform and sword. Speaking through interpreter 
Kiselev, Takadaya informed Rikord that he would negotiate with 
him not in the name of the governor, but of the two officials next 
in rank above him. These, he said, had requested the paper from the 
commandant of Okhotsk. Rikord had hoped to convey his corre- 
spondence to the local authorities in person, but, to save time, he 
agreed. All the officers, in full dress, were called together in the 
cabin and the Okhotsk commandant's letter, enveloped in blue cloth, 
was entrusted to Takadaya with due ceremony. When Rikord de- 
clared that he had yet another official letter, addressed by the governor 
of Irkutsk to the governor of Matsumae, Takadaya begged that it be 
given to him also, but this Rikord refused to do, insisting that he 
could surrender it only to the governor himself or, at the very least, 
to the two officials to whom Takadaya was responsible. Rikord 
doubted that the two officials, at the sight of whom, according to 
Takadaya, the populace fell to their knees, would deign to negotiate 
on the Diana. He decided, therefore, that the meeting take place on 
land, reassured by the thought that his credentials made him an 
official envoy, who in the event of trouble, could count on the full 
backing of his government. His only concern was that his bearing 
and actions reflect sufficient dignity and determination to revive 
Japanese respect for the calling of a Russian envoy. 

Golovnin had been informed of the approach of his vessel the very 
first night. As the Diana entered port, Japanese after Japanese visited 
him to chat excitedly of her many sails and skillful maneuvering 
against the wind. Soon the required letter from Fleet Captain 
Manitskii, the commandant of Okhotsk, was laid before him for 
translation. It was Manitskii who had previously testified that the 
raids of Khvostov had been unauthorized, that, indeed, they had 
aroused the displeasure of the Russian government. Arguing that 
the Russian ruler had always been sympathetic toward Japan, Manits- 
kii urged the Japanese to show their good disposition by releasing 
the captives immediately, hinting not too subtly that further delay 
might prove harmful to Japanese commerce and fishing, since re- 
newed visits of Russian men-of-war would continue to upset the 
seaboard population. Golovnin was pleased with the reception of 



the letter. The Japanese expressed confidence that it met ilie demands 
of the government and began to congratulate the captives with their 
imminent release, but when the latter learned that Rikord was to 
come ashore personally to convey the letter from the governor of 
Irkutsk to the governor of Matsumae, they were immediately afraid 
of another trap. 

After a lengthy discussion of the ceremonial protocol to be observed 
at the meeting on shore, the Japanese permitted the Russian guard- 
of-honor to carry muskets, while the Russians agreed to change from 
boots to shoes on entering the Japanese building. On October 14," 
Rikord set out for shore with a retinue of two officers, ten sailors, and 
the interpreter Kiselev. The latter, it will be recalled, was a native 
Japanese, and Rikord would not have exposed him to possible seizure, 
had he not begged to go along. "What should I fear?" he had pro- 
tested, "if you are captured, everyone will be captured; they will not 
seize me alone; I am not a Japanese, and I ask you to take me ashore, 
so that I can fulfill my duty as interpreter." At the stern of the Diana 
the Russian naval flag had been hoisted between Japanese Hags, while 
a white flag of truce fluttered from the bow. The Russians rode 
ashore on the governor's own barge, rowed by sixteen oarsmen, 
eminent merchants, who had taken this means of getting a closer 
look at them. Hundreds of little boats crowded with curious spec- 
tators, followed them. 

Rows of Japanese lined the landing place, and, informed by 
Takadaya that the Japanese officials were expecting them, the Rus- 
sians marched to the conference building in procession: at the head, 
a noncommissioned officer with the white flag, then the armed guard- 
of-honor, a petty officer with the naval flag, Rikord, and finally, the 
two officers. When they reached the building, the guard-of-honor 
and the colors took up position at the entrance and presented arms, 
while Rikord and the two officers stepped inside. 

22 A discrepancy of two days appears in the narratives of Rikord and Golovnin (Se- 
gawa following Golovnin) between October 11 and October 19. Rikord asserts that 
discussions preparatory to his landing extended to October 12 and 13 and that he 
went ashore on the 14th. Golovnin states that Rikord landed on the 12th. Subsequently 
Rikord's account lags two days behind that of Golovnin, until on October 19, both 
agree again. Whereas Golovnin specifically dates events, Rikord often writes "the fol- 
lowing day," "on the third day," etc. This is confusing not only to the reader, but 
must have tripped up Rikord himself, for adding his references to "the following day" 
and the like, one comes to the 19th, which he specifically dates, two days short. I have 
chosen, therefore, to rely on the dating of Golovnin for the period between October 11 
and October 19. 



The silence was overwhelming. Two-sworded officials in ceremonial 
garb filled the room like so many statues. Even the two officials next 
in rank to the governor, seated side by side, appeared motionless. 
Having changed from boots to shoes in the entrance hall, Rikord 
strode up to them and bowed. They inclined their heads. He bowed 
to the officials on the right and left, then walked to the chairs, placed 
as agreed beforehand, and sat down. Not a word had been spoken. 
Rikord was the first to break the silence. He considered himself to be 
in the house of friends, he said through Kiselev. The two chief officials 
smiled, and the elder (whom the Russians knew from Kunashiri) 
said something to a Japanese, who had hastened to his side. The 
Japanese returned to his place, made a deep bow toward Rikord 
and to Rikord's amazement addressed him in Russian. Murakami 
Teisuke (for it was he, who now interpreted the words of the Japa- 
nese commander) stated that for years the Russians had caused great 
disturbances at the shores of Japan, but that now everything would 
have a happy ending, as the explanation of the commandant of 
Okhotsk had been most satisfactory. Rikord remarked pointedly that 
"happy ending" must mean the release of the captives, and expressed 
Russian pleasure. When he had transmitted the letter, encased in a 
red box, from the governor of Irkutsk, and presented them gifts, the 
Japanese replied that it would take them a few days to examine the 
letter and draft a reply, and asking Rikord to stay for refreshments, 
rose, bowed, and left the room, their gifts being carried after them. 
"Now, thank God, I congratulate you on the quick and happy end- 
ing," beamed Murakami; "Captain Golovnin and the others will soon 
come to you aboard ship; we have a special prudent law that you may 
not meet them now, but they are well." Takadaya and several acad- 
emicians came up to congratulate the Russians. Tea and sweetmeats 
were served, and Rikord and his companions were entertained at 
length before they started back aboard ship, accompanied by Taka- 
daya. It was a beautiful day and the throng of onlookers delighted in 
the colorful display of flags run up on the Diana, as the barge pushed 
off from shore. The Russians, who had vowed, in the event of 
treachery, to lay down their lives before surrendering their flag were 
relieved and filled with gratitude for Takadaya's assistance. 23 

Throughout the conference Golovnin had served as a mine of 


23 Rikord, Zapiski, 79-94; Golovnin, Zapiski, 2: 119-121. Rikord had instructed Lieu- 
tenant Filatov, who had remained in command of the Diana, to hoist the flags without 
the usual accompaniment of gun salutes, so much disliked by the Japanese. 



information for the Japanese, but he was unable to identify Kiselev, 
who had aroused their curiosity, suggesting that he must be an 
inhabitant of Irkutsk, who had learned Japanese from the castaways 
there. The Japanese and Manchu translations, which accompanied 
the letter from the governor of Irkutsk, were not fully intelligible, 
and the captives were called upon to collaborate with Adachi Sannai, 
Murakami Teisuke, and Uehara Kumajiro in a retranslation of the 
Russian text. At the same time they were permitted to communicate 
with Rikord, both indirectly, through Takadaya, and directly in 
writing. They received newspapers and journals, detailing Napoleon's 
withdrawal from Moscow, and letters from friends and relatives. But 
so bothersome was Japanese insistence that everything written must 
be copied and translated, that Golovnin chose not to unseal the letters 
and confined his messages to only a few words. More was conveyed 
through Takadaya, but the latter was not informed enough to satiate 
the captives' hunger for news from the fatherland; nor would he 
converse with them in Russian for fear of offending the official 

Finally, on October iq, 24 a meeting between Rikord and Golovnin 
was arranged, so that the latter, all too familiar by now with the 
strictness of Japanese laws and customs, could explain the situation: 
(1) the Japanese could not accept the presents from the governor of 
Irkutsk to the governor of Matsumae, because Japanese law made it 
impossible for them to reciprocate accordingly; they harbored no 
enmity toward Russia, and begged that the return of the gifts not be 
regarded as an insult; (2) the letter of the commandant of Okhotsk 
constituted a full and satisfactory reply; the governor's communica- 
tion, therefore, would refer to it alone; (3) the governor of Matsumae 
could not reply to the governor of Irkutsk inasmuch as the matter 
would be settled on the basis of the letter of the commandant of 
Okhotsk and because the governor of Irkutsk had been unac- 
quainted, at the time of writing, with a great many circumstances 
relating to Khvostov's actions and with the intentions of the Japanese 
government to reach an amicable solution; (4) Rikord should pre- 
pare a statement, addressed to the two officials, next in rank to the 
governor of Matsumae, to the effect that the governor of Irkutsk had 
no knowledge of the unauthorized papers left by Khvostov or of the 
desire of the Japanese government to get in touch with Russia, when 

24 October 17, according to Golovnin (2: 127). 



he had composed his letter to the governor of Matsumae; (5) Rikord 
should certify that he had fully understood the Russian translation 
of the communication of the governor of Matsumae, which he would 
be shown at the meeting with Golovnin, and promise to submit it to 
his government upon return to Russia. 

As Golovnin and Rikord met face to face in the conference build- 
ing, 25 in the presence of Savelev, Kiselev, and a number of Japanese 
officials and interpreters, there was for a while neither connection nor 
order to the questions and answers which shot back and forth between 
them, they were so carried away with excitement. Golovnin had 
shaven for the occasion and wore a silken jacket and trousers with 
his triangular hat and saber. But the friends were unconscious of the 
incongruity of his garb, oblivious of everything around them. Gradu- 
ally they took hold of themselves, and having brought each other 
up to date on developments since their separation, carefully weighed 
the steps that lay ahead of them. Golovnin conveyed to Rikord the 
wishes of the Japanese, while Rikord related the instructions he had 
received from the civil governor of Irkutsk. The latter included the 
desirability of an agreement regarding the boundaries between Rus- 
sia and Japan and of the establishment of friendly relations. But the 
season was already far advanced; time was running out. To raise 
the boundary question would mean spending the winter in Hakodate 
and this, as Golovnin pointed out, would be tantamount to becom- 
ing voluntary prisoners of the Japanese — hardly a position of strength 
from which to negotiate a frontier settlement favorable to Russia. 
After reading a translation of the declaration of the governor of 
Matsumae, therefore, Rikord confined himself to writing the explana- 
tory notes which the Japanese demanded, before returning to the 

In the evening Takadaya and his son Ryokichi, who had just 
arrived in Hakodate, were entertained aboard ship. Takadaya re- 
quested that the crew receive extra wine in celebration and distrib- 
uted gifts of clothing, but he himself refused to accept costly presents, 
which the Japanese government would only have confiscated. Taka- 
daya took a few items for luck and requested a samovar and silver 

25 According to Rikord, he and Golovnin met outside the building. As the governor's 
barge on which he rode ashore approached the wharf, Rikord spotted his friend, who 
stood amidst a crowd of Japanese near the doors of the house in his strange attire. 
Casting aside ceremony and prudence, he jumped ashore and rushed toward Golov- 
nin. . . . 



tableware so that in years to come he could entertain his Japanese 
friends in Russian fashion in memory of Russian hospitality. 

On October 18, Golovnin, Mur, and Khlebnikov were festively 
received by the governor of Matsumae, who read to them two papers: 
the decision of his government to release them on the ground that 
the raids of Khvostov, in retaliation for which they had been cap- 
tured, had been proved unauthorized, and a declaration of his own, 
in which he expressed pleasure at their liberation, but reminded 
them to impress it on their countrymen that Japanese laws forbade 
foreign trade and required foreign vessels to be driven away. The 
sincerity of the governor's satisfaction at their release was mirrored 
in the words and gifts of Japanese well-wishers who called on them 
after their return from the castle, and for five days the high priest of 
the city offered prayers for their safe return to Russia.- 

On October 19, Rikord went ashore with Savelev, Kiselev, and a 
number of sailors to accept their countrymen. Ordinarily, the silken 
trousers and waistcoats of flowery design in which Golovnin and 
Mur appeared with their regulation hats and naval swords would 
have given rise to great merriment, but now, as the comrades-in-arms 
faced each other, they scarcely noticed these external trappings. 
Grateful that Providence had reunited them at last, tears welled 
unashamedly from their eyes. When the Russians had regained 
their composure, the Japanese brought forth a translation of the 
declaration of the governor of Matsumae and the note from Taka- 
hashi and Kojimoto, containing the usual reminder that Japan was 
determined to use force, if necessary, to remain in seclusion, plus 
the explanation that Christianity was Japan's "great prohibition." 
The officials returned the gifts of the governor of Irkutsk and showed 
a list of supplies with which they would provision the Diana. At last 
the captives were formally surrendered, and, after a round of refresh- 
ments, the Russians started back on the governor's barge, accom- 
panied by Takadaya and surrounded by countless well-wishers. The 
hurrahs with which the jubilant crew received their beloved captain 
and shipmates, after a separation of two years and three months, were 
mingled with tears, and the freed prisoners poured out their prayers 
of thanks before the ship's image of St. Nicholas, patron saint of 
Russia. Rikord sent back on the governor's barge a Japanese castaway, 

26 Golovnin, Zapiski, 2: 121-135; Rikord, Zapiski, 96-101; Segawa, 248-253; Hokkaido- 
shi, 11, 478-488. 



whom he had brought along from Okhotsk. The Japanese had been 
shipwrecked at Kamchatka in 1811, but had been injured and could 
not be repatriated earlier. Russian doctors had found it necessary to 
amputate one of his legs, and he now hobbled about on a wooden 
leg much to the amazement of his countrymen. 

The Japanese brought aboard all the possessions the Russians had 
had at the moment of capture, down to the last piece of a small 
mirror that had been broken accidentally. Hundreds of Japanese 
boats plied back and forth, loading the Diana with fresh water, fire- 
wood, and foodstuffs. The Russians had not requested these supplies, 
did not need them, and said so. But the Japanese insisted that they 
had been ordered to provision the released prisoners for the long 
voyage to Kamchatka, and soon the Diana was laden with a thousand 
large radishes, fifty bags of barley, thirty bags of salt and other 
edibles. The guards no longer hindered their countrymen from going 
aboard the vessel and many of the Japanese gave the Russians a help- 
ing hand in transferring the supplies. So smoothly and vigorously 
did the Russians and the Japanese, who not long ago had regarded 
each other as enemies, work together, that in Rikord's eyes, "it 
seemed that the persons who differed limitlessly in their way of 
thinking, upbringing, and country of birth, separated from each 
other by fully half the globe, formed then one and the same people." 
Moved by kindness, cooperation, gaiety, and jokes, Russians and 
Japanese treated each other to vodka and sake, and, though there was 
little time for anything but work, "the whole day in general came 
to be honored as a great holiday on which the feelings of friendship 
of two neighboring peoples were expressed." 

To officials, who came aboard to congratulate him, Rikord trans- 
mitted a letter of gratitude from the governor of Irkutsk. But, when 
he expressed the desire to call on the governor of Matsumae to thank 
him personally for the release of Golovnin, the Japanese objected. 
Thus, Rikord was never to see the governor, though the governor 
had seen him, for, when Golovnin and Rikord had met in the build- 
ing on shore, he had furtively peeped at them from behind a screen. 
The Japanese examined with awe the personal signature of the 
Russian Emperor, which they had asked to see and made a guided 
tour of the ship. By evening so many visitors crowded aboard that 
it was difficult to move about on deck, and Japanese guards had to 
limit the number of callers. The officials refused to accept any bulky 
gifts, but left late that evening with strips of thin red cloth suitable 



for making a tobacco pouch, with pieces of glass from a lustre, un- 
framed portraits of Russian heroes of the campaign of 1812, atlases, 
maps, books, and other presents small enough to be concealed in the 
sleeves of their kimono. 

On October 22, Japanese boats towed the Diana out of the inner 
harbor. Takadaya, the senior interpreter, and other officials, whom 
the Russians had befriended, accompanied the vessel to the very 
mouth of the spacious bay. "Taisho ura! Taisho ura!" the Russians 
shouted in farewell, and as Takadaya and his men threw up their 
arms and responded with a thunderous "Ura Diana!" Golovnin 
headed homeward at last. 

It was not an easy crossing. For six long hours a violent hurricane 
threatened to undo all their valiant efforts and end everything in dis- 
aster. But the Diana weathered this too and on November 15, 1813, 
as snow fell from the sky, sailed safely into Petropavlovsk Harbor. 
On December 14, 1813, Golovnin continued to St. Petersburg, travel- 
ing by dogsled, by reindeer, on horseback, and finally by carriage. 
He reached the capital on the evening of August 3, 1814, seven years 
to the day and hour after having left there. 

Alexander I was pleased. Golovnin and Rikord were promoted 
in rank, and they and their subordinates were honored with pen- 
sions, decorations, and the usual rewards for outstanding service; 
last, but not least, it was decreed that the memoirs of their adventures 
be published at the expense of the government. 27 


The captivity of Golovnin was a milestone in Russo-Japanese rela- 
tions, as Okuma Shigenobu, the noted Japanese statesman, was to 
point out in later years, and, unimportant as the events surrounding 
it might appear, they were really filled with significance. Had 
Golovnin died in Japanese hands, whatever the cause, Russo-Japanese 
relations would have taken a turn for the worse, and an aggressive 
Russia would have been provided with an excuse, indeed an invita- 
tion, for hostile measures. His amicable release, on the other hand, 
improved relations between the two nations. 

The web of circumstantial evidence had been such that the Russian 
captives could not have extricated themselves without difficulty. 

27 Golovnin, Zapiski, 2:135-147; Hokkaido-shi, 488-489; Rikord, Zapiski, 103-105; 
Segawa, 260. 



Under the circumstances much had depended on the disposition of 
the Japanese. Had the interrogators or interpreters wished to ruin 
the prisoners, they could have done so easily. Instead, some of them 
did their best to help the Russians. For example, there had been in 
Golovnin's pocket a note, which he had written for the Japanese 
before his captivity. In it he had chided the Japanese in rather 
insulting language for having opened fire on unarmed persons, noting 
that no Russian officer could take hostile action without the wishes of 
the Emperor. When Murakami translated the draft, he took advan- 
tage of its illegibility in spots to skip completely those remarks, which 
might have given offense to his superiors, and translated only the 
part, which substantiated the captives' argument that they had har- 
bored no hostile intentions and that the raids of Khvostov had been 
unauthorized. When Murakami left for the capital, he ran the risk 
of disembowelment by writing to the captives about the prospects 
of their release. Nor was Murakami an isolated example. Other 
interpreters and officials had gone out of their way to lighten the 
burden of the captives. It was evident that, angered as the Japanese 
had been by the raids of Khvostov and Davydov, and though they 
held Golovnin a captive, they were not inherently xenophobic. 28 

There were of course some exceptions, notably Mamiya Rinzo, the 
famous explorer, land-surveyor, and astronomer, whose patriotism 
had been aggravated by a Russian bullet in the buttocks at the time 
of the Khvostov attack on Etorofu, and Nakagawa, who had been 
spirited away by the same raiders, but most Japanese, especially the 
common people, showed sympathy if not goodwill toward the Rus- 
sians. Golovnin was cheered by this attitude, and despite his captivity, 
developed a certain respect and liking for the Japanese. Tiresome 
as Japanese questions were, they served as a means for Golovnin to 
force significant information about Russia into Japan. At the same 
time the endless visits of Japanese scholars gave him the opportunity 
to learn much about Japan. From the point of view of greater knowl- 
edge and better understanding between Russia and Japan, Golovnin's 
dismal prison proved to be a gilded cage. 

Mamiya Rinzo inquired about Russian methods of land-surveying 
and astronomical observation; in exchange he shared knowledge of 
his own. In his explorations, he had voyaged beyond the Kuril Islands 
to Sakhalin, even to Manchuria and the Amur River and had been 

28 Golovnin, Zapiski, 2:53, 67-73. 



the first to discover that Sakhalin was an island rather than a penin- 
sula; how much he revealed to Golovnin is not clear, but the latter 
does acknowledge the receipt of "much very interesting information, 
which is not useless for our government to know." 29 The academician 
Adachi Sannai, who worked on the translation of a textbook in arith- 
metic brought back from Russia by Kodayu in 1793, sought further 
enlightenment in mathematics from the captives, while the young 
Dutch-language interpreter Baba Sajuro advanced his knowledge of 
Russian by obtaining the French equivalents of Russian words and 
arriving at their Japanese meaning by way of a French-Dutch lexicon, 
and Uehara Kumajiro was able to add a supplement of Russian words 
to his survey of the Ainu language. Golovnin helped Baba revise a 
Russo-Japanese dictionary compiled in earlier years, and assisted 
him in the translation of a work on vaccination brought back by 
Nakagawa; at the same time he himself toiled for months on the 
composition of a Russian grammar and exercises in the form of 
translations of French-Dutch dialogues. 30 Once the Russians were 
satisfied that the Japanese really planned to release them, they be- 
came cooperative teachers of physics, astronomy, and so forth. To be 
sure their deliberate exaggeration of Russian might in the Far East 
detracted from the accuracy of Japanese knowledge, but this very 
inaccuracy perpetuated Japanese respect for Russian power, when 
such respect was no longer reasonable from a Western point of view. 
Golovnin's own observations were profound. As one Russian 
historian has remarked, Golovnin and Krusenstern may be regarded 
as the fathers of Russian Japanology. 31 Golovnin's writings were the 
most significant Russian firsthand portrayal of the Japanese available 
until the opening of Japan, if not indeed, until the beginning of the 
twentieth century. In later years, they were crowded aside by mis- 
leading accounts, which doted on the quaintness of the Japanese, but, 
with the onslaught of the Russo-Japanese War, authors were to 
remember Golovnin's penetrating observations and to regret that his 
remarks had not been taken more seriously. 32 Some of Golovnin's 
comments had been woven into the body of his narrative; the most 

zvibid., i: 182-187. 

so ibid., 2: 80-82. See also, Lensen, Report from Hokkaido, 28-45. 

31 Novakovskii, 125. In the wake of Golovnin's captivity there appeared in Russia a 
number of essays on Japan. See Novakovskii, 145. 

32 See, for example, M. Bogdanovich, Ocherk iz proshlago i nastoiashchago Iaponii 
and N. Shebuev, Iaponskie vechera, 203. 



important ones, however, had appeared originally as Part III of his 
memoirs, in a separate description of the Japanese Empire and its 
people, systematically constructed around nine topics: (1) the geo- 
graphical location, expanse, and climate of Japan, (2) the origin of 
the Japanese people, (3) national character, education, and language, 
(4) religious faith and ceremonies, (5) the governmental system, 
(6) laws and customs, (7) natural products, industry, and trade, (8) 
population and armed forces, (9) Japanese dependencies and colo- 
nies. It is characteristic, perhaps, that in our own day this third part, 
which describes the Japanese favorably, has been excluded from a 
new anthology of Golovnin's writings. 33 

The early Christian missionaries had spoken highly of the Japanese. 
"These are the best people so far discovered, and it seems to me that 
among unbelievers no people can be found to excel them," Francis 
Xavier had reported in the middle of the sixteenth century. 34 But 
the expulsion and ferocious persecution of Christians, Western prog- 
ress and pride in the achievements of the industrial revolution, and 
possibly Dutch slander 35 had conspired to lower the Japanese in 
European esteem. Weighing the data obtained from different in- 
formants, Golovnin succeeded in extracting many truths about Japan, 
and, in his writings, we find a key, if not a prediction, of the speed 
with which the Japanese were to assimilate Western techniques in 
years to come. Taking issue with the contemporary European view 
that the Japanese were cunning, treacherous, ungrateful, vengeful, 
abominable, and dangerous, Golovnin described them instead as 
patient, modest, and courteous, and marvelled "with what patience, 
calm, and kindness they treated us and heard out our arguments, and 
often reproaches and even abuse itself, although, one must confess, 
their cause was more just than ours." 36 In the politeness with which 
the Japanese treated each other, Golovnin found evidence of their 
true enlightenment. They settled their differences in calm and 
modest fashion, in a tongue which differentiated expressions by 
degree of politeness, depending on the respective social status of the 
speakers. The same restraint and good taste governed Japanese 
negotiations with the Russians, and Golovnin and Rikord, whose 

33 Magidovich (ed.), Golovnin, Sochineniia. 

34 G. B. Sansom, The Western World and Japan, 115. 

35 The Dutch sought to discredit Westerners in the eyes of the Japanese to retain 
their monopoly on trade. It is possible that some of their unfavorable portrayals of 
the Japanese had been similarly motivated. 

36 Golovnin, Zapiski, 3: 52. 



narrative was added to the memoirs of the former, testified to the 
diplomatic tact of the Japanese communications. The etiquette- 
conscious Japanese eonld not understand how errors of spelling and 
grammar eonld creep into Russian documents, and claimed that "no 
Japanese official would sign a paper, incorrectly written, as such 
matters may be read a tier a hundred years and more, and thereby 
will be judged those, who have written them." Remarked Golovnin: 
"Let the reader himself figure out who is right, and whether the 
Japanese deserve being called an unenlightened people." 57 

The level of Japanese education greatly impressed Golovnin. "As 
regards public instruction in Japan, if one compares as a mass one 
whole people with another, it is my opinion, that the Japanese are 
the most educated people in the entire world. There does not exist 
a person in Japan, who eonld not read or write, and did not know 
the laws of his fatherland. . . ." Golovnin admitted that Europe was 
ahead of Japan in science and art, in the sense that the best scientists 
and artists of Europe were ahead of the best minds of Japan, but 
contended that if a comparison were made not of the select few but 
of the broad masses, "the Japanese have a better understanding of 
things than the lower class of people in Europe." 

Golovnin lauded the concern of the Japanese government for its 
subjects; he portrayed the people as a nation of shopkeepers and 
compared them to the English in their desire for order, cleanliness, 
labeling, and pricing of every article. He made the important observa- 
tion that the government's prohibition against foreign trade was not 
an expression of popular will, and speculated that it actually may 
have been the very eagerness of the populace to trade with other 
nations, that induced the government to cling to the old restrictions 
for fear that the people would be corrupted by foreign ways. He 
reported that the merchant class was numerous and wealthy and that, 
scorned as traders might be in theory, they were influential in prac- 
tice — gold speaking louder than rank — even in feudal Japan. 

The Japanese had their vices, foremost among them, according to 
Golovnin, was overindulgence in sex and alcohol, but he remarked 
that Japanese women were very attractive and that there was less 
drunkenness in Japan than in Europe. Golovnin reported that the 
Japanese were vengeful in the sense that revenge had once been part 
of their code of honor, but he commented that it was no longer a 

37 Ibid., 3: 20-22; 2: 116-117 footnotes; Rikord, Zapiski, 66. 



dominant factor in their way of life and asked, where there was a 
place without its own foolishness. "It is equally stupid or absurd, 
whether one knifes oneself or shoots oneself for a careless word, 
uttered unintentionally." 

Golovnin described the Japanese as sensible and astute, honest, and 
hospitable. He recalled that Spanberg and Walton had been well 
received, and that neither Laxman nor Rezanov had had reason to 
complain about Japanese treatment, except for their refusal to permit 
the exploration of their settlements and to engage in trade. Golovnin 
considered Japanese fear of European nations justified, and though 
he tried to convince the Japanese that European progress had been 
the result of the free interaction of the talents and inventions of 
different nations, he appreciated their response that international 
relations led to destruction as well as to progress. There was truth 
and farsightedness in the Japanese view that the policy of isolation, 
whatever its shortcomings, had brought to the people of Japan the 
blessings of prolonged peace, while the resumption of relations with 
Europe on the part of Japan and China would entail an increase in 
war and bloodshed. But sympathize though Golovnin did with the 
Japanese theory that it was better to live in a small and poor but 
peaceful community, than in a large and rich city which was torn by 
constant strife, he felt that peace had sapped Japan of vital military 
strength, that the Japanese lacked daring, fearlessness, bravery, and 
manliness. Unlike other observers, however, he did not deduce from 
this a lack of potential prowess, but warned that "one cannot say of 
the Japanese, that they are cowards by nature." He explained that 
"if they are timorous, this is because of the peaceloving nature of 
their government, because of the long tranquillity in which the 
whole people, having no war, rejoices, or to put it better, because 
of the unaccustomedness to bloodshed." He warned that this pacifism 
was not ground for complacency. In Europe soldiers were regarded 
as the dregs of society and were expected to show respect when 
addressing gentlemen, but in Japan the samurai commanded the 
esteem of the common people and merchants alike. For the moment 
Japan was militarily unprepared. It had no navy, only drawings and 
models of European vessels, but he predicted: 

If the Japanese government should desire to have a navy, it would be 
quite easy to establish it after the European pattern, and to bring it to 
possible perfection. The Japanese only have to invite to their country 
two or three good shipwrights and several naval officers: they have excel- 



lent harbors for the establishment of naval ports, all the necessary ma- 
terials for building and arming the vessels, a great many skillful carpenters 
and very alert, brave sailors; and the people in general are extremely quick 
of apprehension and imitative. Japanese seamen, put on a European 
footing, could in short time match their fleet with the best in Europe. 

Golovnin portrayed the Japanese as fiery patriots, conscious not 
only of the harm that foreign actions had brought in years past, but 
confident of their own superiority, a feeling purposely fostered by 
mythical stories of their country's unique origin and of the role and 
continuity of their imperial dynasty. The Japanese populace was 
kept uninformed about other countries, but officials and scholars 
studied modern European history, and, through the Dutch and the 
Chinese, followed with particular concern Russian activities in 
America and British activities in India. They were willing to accept 
Russian assurances that the raids of Khvostov and Davydov had been 
unauthorized, but they were by no means convinced that Russian 
intentions would remain peaceful, for not all rulers were alike — 
one loved peace, another one war. Repeatedly they quoted a proph- 
ecy of olden days: "The time will be, when a people will come from 
the north, and conquer Japan." 

Golovnin reported that the Japanese lagged behind Europe in 
literature, architecture, sculpture, engraving, music, and poetry, and 
considered them mere infants in military science and navigation, 
but he insisted, at the same time, that their capabilities were tre- 
mendous. What clearer testimony can there be of Golovnin's insight 
into the Japanese character than this remarkable — almost prophetic — 

The Japanese Government wished that the nation confine itself to its 
own enlightenment, and make use only of inventions of its own mind; 
it forbids it to adopt the inventions of other peoples, lest foreign customs 
steal in together with foreign sciences and arts. Their neighbors must 
thank Providence, that it had imbued Japanese lawgivers with such a 
thought, and must try not to give them cause to cast aside their policy 
and take up that of Europe. If there will rule over this populous, intelli- 
gent, dexterous, imitative, and patient nation, which is capable of every- 
thing, a sovereign like our great Peter, he will enable Japan, with the 
resources and treasures which she has in her bosom, in a short number of 
years to lord over the whole Pacific Ocean. And what would happen then 
to the maritime regions in the east of Asia and the west of America, so 
distant from those countries which must defend them? And were it to 
come about, that the Japanese should take it into their head to introduce 



European civilization into their country, and were to follow our policy, 
the Chinese too would then find themselves forced to do the same. In such 
a case, these two strong nations could give a very different look to Euro- 
pean affairs. No matter how firmly the aversion to everything foreign 
is rooted in the government of the Japanese and the Chinese, nonetheless 
such a turn in their system must not be regarded infeasible: they are 
people, and there is nothing permanent in human affairs. What they 
might not want to do of their own will, they might be forced to do by 
necessity: for example, often repeated attacks by neighboring nations 
would of course force the Japanese to weigh means by which it would be 
possible to prevent a handful of foreigners from troubling the populous 
nation; this would give an inducement for the introduction of warships 
after the European pattern, from these vessels there would come into 
being fleets, and there it is probable, that the success of that measure 
would induce them to adopt also our other enlightened methods for the 
extermination of mankind, and finally all European inventions would 
gradually come into use in Japan, even without a special genius, such as 
was our Peter, but by the force and concurrence of circumstances, and as 
for teachers, many would come from all of Europe, if only the Japanese 
wish to invite them. And therefore, it seems to me, one must not, so to 
speak, provoke this just and honest people. If, however, contrary to 
expectation, some pressing reasons will force one to act otherwise, one 
should use all means and efforts to act with determination, that is to 
say so as to finish completely the matter in several years. I do not say 
that the Japanese and Chinese could liken themselves unto Europeans 
and become dangerous in our times, but this is something that is pos- 
sible, and may happen sooner or later. 38 

The meaning of Golovnin's observations has been obscured in our 
own day for political reasons. Anxious to arouse the Russian people 
against the Japanese, Soviet writers and editors have emasculated 
Golovnin's observations so as to prove Japanese hatefulness. 39 Yet 
in doing so, they have done a great injustice to a true Russian hero. 
Golovnin's greatness (as that of Takadaya) lies not in having been 
captured and released, but in having weathered his experiences with- 
out hatred, in having been able to understand and forgive the actions 
of his captors and to give justice where justice is due. 

In one respect only does the Golovnin affair leave a sour taste in 
one's mouth, namely in the defection of Ensign Mur. At the time 
it was a unique incident in the history of Russo-Japanese relations, 
neither Takadaya nor Golovnin having permitted their sympathies 
to lead them onto the road of treason and the castaways, who had 

38 Golovnin, Zapiski, 3: 12-20, 32-36, 45-46, 52-54, 66, 93-108. 

39 See, for example, Iurii Zhukov, Russkie i Iaponiia. 



elected to stay in Russia, having done so under quite different cir- 
cumstances, aware of the ill reception accorded by their government 
to repatriates in years past. Today Mui's defection is of interest not 
only as an isolated transgression of a Russian captive in the early 
nineteenth century, but as an early example of the experiences of 
Russians, Japanese, Americans, and others, who, in the years of 
World War II and the Korean conflict, courted the favor of their 
captors, "collaborated with the enemy," renounced their country, 
and when they were finally repatriated, suffered mental anguish 
beyond endurance. It is a vivid illustration of the fact that, as Golov- 
nin put it, "of all possible vices not one lies so heavily on the heart, 
as the repudiation of one's fatherland." 

Mur was a very talented young officer with a good hand. Great 
admirers of calligraphy, the Japanese regarded the neatness of his 
writing as evidence of superior education. Mur sketched well and the 
Japanese had him draw a great deal. They never commanded, but 
requested, and quite generally cultivated his cooperation. When he 
fell ill in September of 1812, when Russian hopes for ultimate liber- 
ation were at an ebb, the Japanese, decent as they had been in their 
treatment of all the prisoners, extended special consideration to Mur. 
He was permitted to step out of his cage, warm himself at the fire, 
and go up to the cages of his comrades; now and then he was handed 
a pipe through the bars and permitted to take a puff. No doubt 
this amiable treatment affected Mur's disposition toward the Jap- 
anese. But it was probably in Mur's background that we find the 
germs of his ambitions. The experiences of the captives had been 
varied and exotic, but devoid of the sex element in high adventure. 
Mur was handsome and stately in appearance. His fellow countrymen 
teased him about turning the head of some important Japanese lady 
and securing her help. To one toying with the thought of making 
a career as an interpreter or official by staying in Japan, such jests 
could have been more than suggestive. Had not his father done 
something similar? A German, he had entered the Russian service 
and taken a Russian wife. Why not enter the Japanese service, where 
Mur's knowledge would assure him of a bright future, and marry 
a Japanese beauty? 

Mur began to inform on his comrades, to order them about, and 
to intimidate them in an attempt to court the favor of his prospective 
employers. The Japanese used Mur, as all nations use collaborators, 
but patriotic and rank-conscious to the extreme, they retained 
greater respect for Golovnin, and did not seem eager to recruit Mur's 



services on a permanent basis nor, contrary to Golovnin's fears, 
to send him back to Germany by way of the Dutch. When Rikord 
first returned to Japan, Mur was shaken by the possibility of repatri- 
ation, and tried to reestablish amicable relations with his comrades. 
But eventually, he turned against them again, the more viciously 
since he felt rejected by both sides. When the Diana returned again 
in October of 1813, and he saw that there was no chance of his re- 
maining in Japan, Mur became acutely depressed. In desperation he 
tried to sabotage the negotiations, urging the Japanese not to accept 
the letter of the commandant of Okhotsk, because of its threat of 
Russian action along the shores of Japan. But the Japanese, who 
had rejected various "exposes" of Russian sinister designs on his 
part, replied that the letter was reasonable and that they were very 
much aware of the fact that, in case of war, the Russians could indeed 
work great damage on the shores of Japan. With no more success, 
Mur sought to persuade the Japanese that the paper from the gov- 
ernor of Irkutsk was insolent and Russian gifts unworthy. 40 

Mur refused to attend the momentous meeting between Golovnin 
and Rikord on October 17, but he could not avoid appearing before 
the governor of Matsumae the following day. He seemed deeply 
distressed, when the governor read to the captives the papers of 
their release and wished them well, uttering again and again that he 
was unworthy of such grace. Back aboard the Diana, he was greatly 
depressed; he did not wish to associate with the officers, dressed 
shabbily, and withdrew broodingly now to the crew-side of the deck, 
now to his own cabin. For days he would not eat at all, then gorge 
himself, as if to invite some deadly illness. 

Lieutenant Rudakov, who had served on the Diana and was an 
old friend of Mur, was now commandant of Petropavlovsk Harbor. 
When the vessel returned to Kamchatka, therefore, it was arranged 
for Mur to stay with Rudakov and his young wife in the hope that 
feminine chatter would distract him. But Mur would disappear 
to the bath or some other lonely spot and weep bitterly. Mrs. Ruda- 
kov became frightened and Mur was moved to the house of a priest. 
If a woman could not console him, perhaps a priest would. But Mur's 
conscience could not be calmed and he was plunged into an abyss of 
depression reminiscent of the sufferings of the castaway Tajuro on 
the eve of his repatriation. He refused money that was due him, 
would not buy decent clothing, and walked about dressed in an old 

40 Golovnin, Zapiski, 1: 113, 132-135, 163; 2: 33-34. 45"4 6 > 61-63, 77-78, 88-92, 123-124. 



Kamchadal garment of deer skin. Finally, he sent Golovnin a report 
in which he described his trespasses and called himself a traitor. 
It was a pathetic document, quite incoherent and confused. Golovnin 
replied at once that in the light of circumstances Mur's conduct had 
not been as reprehensible as all that, and that he was young and 
would have ample opportunity to redeem himself. He called on 
Mur frequently and together with Rikord tried to allay his remorse. 
Their efforts appeared beneficial, and Mur seemed to regain some 
of his old composure. He asked for permission to move to some 
native Kamchadal settlement, where he would not be reminded of 
his guilt by Russian faces. Believing that several weeks of such isola- 
tion might be helpful, his superiors agreed, and Mur prepared 
elatedly for his departure. He was permitted to go hunting, though 
his gun was carried by one of the servants assigned to guard against 
any suicide attempt on his part. Mur's apparent good humor under- 
mined the vigilance of the attendants, and on December 4, 1812, 
when he was temporarily left alone with his gun, he put a quick 
end to his suffering. The tombstone erected by the officers of the 
Diana in his memory is a monument of the compassionate under- 
standing and forgiveness of Golovnin. 

Here lies the body of 



who in the flower of his years 

died in Petropavlovsk Harbor 

on November 22 [December 4], 1813 

In Japan 

he was abandoned 

by the Guardian Angel who had accompanied 

him on the road of this life. 


made him lose his way. 

His errors were expiated 

by bitter repentance, 



calmed his unhappiness. 

Tender hearts! 

honor his memory 

with a tear. 41 

4iGolownin, 11, 223, Golovnin, Zapiski, 2:127-146. 



•np^ussiAN assurances that Khvostov and Davydov had acted 
^l&jy) without authority had cleared the atmosphere to the ex- 

J^*^\ tent that Golovnin and his fellow captives were released. 
^ JL-But the Japanese government did not budge from its 
determination to remain outside the stream of world affairs; on the 
contrary, it seemed more anxious than ever to avoid further entangle- 
ments. 1 Golovnin and the other captives had been ordered to help 
translate into Russian the replies of the Shogunate to Laxman and 
Rezanov and to present these to their own government, so that there 
could be no room for doubt about the policy of Japan. 2 

When Golovnin returned to Russia, however, he reported to 
Governor Treskin of Irkutsk, that he had succeeded in learning 
secretly that, prior to the raids of Khvostov and Davydov, Japanese 
merchants had traded with Russian Ainu despite all the prohibitions. 
In those days the northern regions, including Etorofu, Kunashiri, 
and Sakhalin, had been controlled not by the central government, 
but by the Lord of Matsumae, who had tolerated trade with neigh- 
boring peoples as being of benefit to his own subjects. In a bay 
between Nemuro and Akkeshi there had stood a warehouse filled 
with beaver and fox skins, eagle feathers, old clothing, and glass 
beads of Russian origin. These had been brought to the Japanese 
by Ainu from the Russian domains. The Japanese had wanted more 
European goods, but these the Ainu had been unable to supply, 
afraid to demand them from the Russians, who had forbidden them 
to go to the Japanese. But the inability of the Matsumae clan to 
deal with the attacks of Khvostov and Davydov effectively, had led 
to the assimilation of the Matsumae domains by the central govern- 
ment and now the presence of Shogunate officials had put a halt to 
the secret trade. Upon arrival in Irkutsk, Golovnin elaborated on 
his observations: 

(1) In general the Japanese government and the whole nation regard 
the Russian empire as a state that is powerful, martial, and always dread- 
ful for Japan. 

(2) In disposition toward Russia, the Japanese government has split 

1 Siebold, 1, 23. 2 Golovnin, Zapiski, 11, 112. 



into two factions. One of them seeks to avert danger by having no rela- 
tions whatsoever with Russia: while the other on the contrary sees all 
the security for the Japanese empire in commercial relations with Russia. 

(3) The first letter of the governor of Irkutsk to the governor of 
Matsumae and the letter from the commandant of Okhotsk to the two 
commanders next in rank to the governor concerning the fact that the 
pillages of Khvostov had been unauthorized, convinced the Japanese not 
only of the peaceloving disposition of our government toward them, but 
also that the actions of the former envoy Rezanov had been completely 
contrary to the will of the emperor, and as a result the party favorably 
disposed toward Russia has increased in strength. 

(4) That although the papers of the Japanese government, with which 
Golovnin had been returned, resolutely forbade, under one known con- 
dition, Russian vessels to come to the shores of Japan, this followed 
before the receipt by the supreme Japanese government both of the 
first letter of the governor of Irkutsk to the governor of Matsumae as well 
as especially of his other letter to the governor of Matsumae, thanking 
him for the release of the Russian prisoners and among other things 
inviting the determination of the frontiers and relations between the 
two empires. 

(5) Inasmuch as the governor of Matsumae does not have the right 
to answer on his own such an important subject, while the lateness of 
the season did not permit to await with the sloop Diana in Hakodate 
a reply from the higher Japanese government, the governor himself in- 
structed through the interpreter most favorably disposed toward Golov- 
nin whither and when to come for a reply. In consequence thereof 
Golovnin and Rikord wrote a letter to the two officials next in rank to 
the governor, that a Russian vessel would come the very next summer 
to Etorofu for a reply to the second letter of the governor of Irkutsk. 3 

The Japanese had stated repeatedly that trade with Russia could 
not be permitted, that any relations, whatsoever, were out of the 
question. Yet the Japanese have a penchant for polite vagueness 
and the apparent promise of a reply to the governor's second letter 
gave hope for a change of heart. While preparations were being 
made to send a ship to Etorofu, therefore, Treskin addressed a 
memorandum to Governor General Pestel, in which he noted that 
Russia must be ready to follow up without delay any possible Jap- 
anese concessions to trade. He recommended that the Diana or, if 
she was no longer seaworthy, another reliable vessel be kept in readi- 

3 Polonskii, 563-566. The original numbering has been modified here. Polonskii does 
not list a number "3"; number "3" here is equivalent to his number "4", etc. It is not 
clear from the Russian text whether "a" Russian vessel or "the" Russian vessel (i.e. 
the Diana) was meant. According to Segawa (232), Golovnin and Rikord promised to 
send a small unarmed vessel. 



ness in Petropavlovsk Harbor. The officers and crew of the Diana 
were to be detained in Okhotsk, until the receipt of the expected 
Japanese reply. If the Japanese agreed to enter into relations with 
Russia, negotiations ought to be conducted not in Nagasaki, but in 
Hakodate, which was free from Dutch and other foreign intrigue 
and close enough so that communications between it and Petropav- 
lovsk or Okhotsk might be exchanged twice within one season. 
Hakodate also would be the most suitable place for the exchange 
of the type of goods that Russo-Japanese trade would entail — fish, 
whale-oil, mammoth bones and peltry from Siberia and America, 
and barley and salt from Japan. At the same time storage facilities 
at nearby Petropavlovsk would enable Russian merchants to with- 
hold Russian goods until the price was right. Russian trade with 
Hakodate could be strengthened further if the government would 
permit Mr. Dobbel, a citizen of the United States, to realize the 
plans which he had proposed. 4 In view of Golovnin's experience, 
he alone should be given command of another Russian expedition 
and related negotiations; if this was impossible Rikord should be 
appointed. The embassy ought to include assistants and advisers 
from among civilians, scholars, or merchants, but not too many as 
the experience of Rezanov had shown that the greater in number 
of personnel and class distinction such embassies are, the more 
disorders and unpleasantnesses they entail. Command of the vessel 
and powers of negotiation should be in the hands of the same person. 
He must not be labeled an "envoy" as Japan is inclined never to 
enter into political relations with anybody; for purposes of trade, 
the Japanese regard a "charge" sufficient. Treskin advised that Jap- 
anese claims to Etorofu and the islands to the south be respected 
and that no projects be undertaken on Sakhalin lest they precipitate 
a complete break with Japan and complications with the Manchu 
government that might endanger Russo-Chinese trade. He recom- 

4 Mr Dobbel (Novakovskii gives the name as Dobella), an American citizen, presented 
to the Russian government plans for the economic development of the Russian Far 
East, including, among other steps, the inauguration of whaling and fishery m the 
waters of Russia's Pacific colonies, the occupation of the Liu Ch'iu (Ryukyu) Islands, 
the improvement of communications in Siberia, and the establishment of trade rela- 
tions between Kamchatka and China, Japan, and other countries of the Pacific. But 
though the American arrived in Petropavlovsk with the necessary vessels in 1812, his 
farsighted plans failed to meet with the approval of the imperial government which 
apparently feared foreign competition. Apprehension lest foreign capital, foreign mer- 
chants, and above all foreign colonists penetrate into Siberia inhibited also the develop- 
ment of the northern sea route. (Constantin Krypton, The Northern Sea Route, v-vi.) 



mended that the Russian-American Company be prohibited from 
penetrating beyond Uruppu. Recalling the activities of the priest 
Vereshchagin, who under the guise of spreading Christianity had 
distributed among the natives of the Kuril Islands religious images 
and so forth in exchange for fur, Treskin asked that the Christian- 
ization of the Ainu be halted until more trustworthy priests were 
found. Some of these images had eventually found their way into 
Japanese hands and the Japanese had been greatly perturbed by 
the threat of missionary activity, classing it in one category with the 
raids of Khvostov. Had such a priest or such images been found 
by the Japanese on the Kuril Islands, while Golovnin was being 
held captive, the fate of both priest and countrymen would have 
been dreadful as it w r ould not have been possible to persuade the 
Japanese that such priests traveled about without authority. 5 

On November 22, 1813, Assistant Navigator Novitskii was ordered 
to sail to northern Etorofu to bring back the expected reply from 
the governor of Matsumae. On July 15, 1814, he led the transport 
Boris i Gleb out of Tigilsk, where he had spent the winter, and ap- 
proached northern Etorofu. From August 1 until August 10, he 
cruised along the shore of the island at a distance of five to six miles. 
Though his vessel was no doubt clearly visible from shore no one 
came out to meet him, and he turned back to Russia without ever 
landing. Had Novitskii gone ashore, he might have succeeded in 
clarifying the relative extent of Japanese and Russsian authority 
on the Kuril Archipelago, for appropriate instructions had been 
sent to the island from Matsumae. The capture of Golovnin had 
brought home the need for a frontier agreement to both Russians 
and Japanese. The governor of Irkutsk had instructed Rikord to 
broach this matter to the Japanese, but both Golovnin and Rikord 
had found it inopportune to do so during the negotiations for the 
release of the captives. Only at their very departure did they mention 
the boundary problem as a topic for future consideration, the second 
letter of the governor of Irkutsk containing reference to it. At the 
time, the Japanese had mentioned that their sway extended down 
to (and including) Etorofu, and Golovnin interpreted this to mean 
that they recognized Uruppu as Russian. The instructions sent to 
Etorofu, where the Russians were to come for a reply, however, 
described Etorofu and the islands to the south as Japanese, Shimu- 

5 Polonskii, 565-571. 



shiru and the islands to the north as Russian, with Uruppu as a 
buffer zone between. 6 

Treskin was displeased that Novitskii had not proceeded with 
more determination, but he did not request another voyage and 
recommended to Pestel that the crew of the Diana be released to 
return to St. Petersburg. This Pestel authorized, but, in accordance 
with a suggestion from Rikord, he instructed Treskin to send a 
vessel at the first convenient opportunity to the shores of Japan in 
quest of the reply. In 1815 the transport Pavel under the command 
of Navigator's Apprentice Srednii left Okhotsk with six Japanese 
castaways, three of whom had been shipwrecked off the Kuril Islands, 
the others having been swept to California and brought from there 
by an English merchantman. On August 8, the Russians were almost 
within reach of Hokkaido, but unfavorable winds, fog, and fear 
of capture by the Japanese prompted them to turn back. At Etorofu 
they let the castaways ashore on a leather bidarka, amply supplied 
with provisions, and returned to Okhotsk without further delay. 7 
In 1816 a letter, addressed to the Japanese government in the name 
of the commandant of Okhotsk and requesting the expected com- 
munication, was sent by Lieutenant Rudakov, the commandant of 
Kamchatka, to the fourteenth island (Ushishiru) from which natives 
were to take it to Uruppu and there attach it to a post, erected for 
such purposes. The following year, in 1817, the elder Usov and five 
Ainu were sent to the same place for an answer. They were not 
heard from again. In 1821 their canoe was found overturned near 
the sixteenth island. Meanwhile the letter posted on Uruppu had 
been found by a Japanese official in the summer of 1818, but it was 
badly damaged by snow and rain and conveyed no more than, that 
in 1814 the Russians had cruised along the shores of Etorofu in 
expectation of a Japanese reply, and receiving none, had sailed 
back to Okhotsk. 

Convinced of the futility of further solicitation and eager to cut 
its expenditures, the Irkutsk command ordered the discontinuance 
of attempts to establish official relations with Japan. It announced 
that in the future shipwrecked Japanese were to be sent only to the 
Kuril Islands; from there they would have to make their own way 

sNakaraura, 91; Hokkaido-shi, 11, 490-491. 

7 Polonskii asserts that Srednii did not succeed in putting the castaways ashore at 
Etorofu, and that they departed on the bidarka in 1817 from Kamchatka. This is dis- 
puted by a Japanese source, quoted by Novakovskii, which relates that the castaways— 
though only five of them— were questioned in the Japanese capital in 1816. 



home. In accordance with this policy a number of Japanese, cast- 
away in Russian waters in 1836 and again in 1840, were taken to 
Etorofu in 1843. The doors of Japan, closed to the Western Bar- 
barians, remained closed also to the Red Devils. 

Russian disillusionment in establishing relations with the Jap- 
anese was reflected in a loss of interest in the Kuril Islands as well. 
Only a few officials and missionaries would visit the four islands 
nearest Kamchatka; rarely did they penetrate farther south and even 
then not beyond Ushishiru. This lack of interest extended even to 
Sakhalin and the whole maritime region. The cause for such a frame 
of mind cannot be attributed solely to Japanese reticence. It was 
furthered by the growing belief that Sakhalin Island was a peninsula 
and that the Amur Estuary was so blocked with sand as to deny 
access to the sea; without an outlet to the sea the development of 
the Far Eastern regions seemed hopeless. The Russian government 
furthermore derived great profit (from fifty thousand to a million 
rubles a year) from trade with China and was most anxious not to 
do anything that might antagonize the Manchus and endanger this 
income. At the same time developments in Europe demanded atten- 
tion, for the spread of revolution was of primary concern to the 
Russian monarchy. The temporary discontinuance of Russia's tra- 
ditional eastward expansion — the first step in the liquidation of her 
interests in the Western hemisphere — is vividly illustrated by her 
withdrawal from California. By the 1840's she was so weak in the 
Pacific that various Russian possessions, including the very shores 
of Kamchatka and fortified Petropavlovsk itself, were exposed to 
the forages of audacious whalers. 

While the Russian government was preoccupied with the sup- 
pression of liberalism and nationalism in Europe, criticism of Rus- 
sian policy in the east repeatedly penetrated through the curtain of 
censorship. The findings of Professor Aleksandr Middendorf, who 
in 1842 headed an expedition sponsored by the Academy of Sciences 
to northern and eastern Siberia, caught the interest of Nicholas I, 
for the young zoologist had supplanted his scientific investigations 
of the fauna and flora of Siberia with observations on the political 
status of the region. After traversing the Amur region, questioning 
natives about their relations with China and seeking out border 
posts and boundary lines, Middendorf had concluded that the natives 
in the basin of the lower reaches of the Amur were in feeling and 
fact completely independent from China, that the Chinese de- 



lineated their frontier with Russia considerably more to the east 
and south than had been realized in Russia, and that nomadic tribes 
frequently violated these boundaries. These findings, backed by 
exhortations in the press, the tradition of his forefathers, and am- 
bitions of his own, impelled Nicholas I to order the review of re- 
ports about the Amur Estuary and Sakhalin, especially because 
Britain's victory over the Manchus in the so-called Opium War of 
1839 to 1842 had resulted in concessions, which marked the be- 
ginning of a new phase in Chinese-European relations, that were 
bound to affect, sooner or later, the commercial dealings between 
China and Russia. As one of the members of a committee set up to 
recommend measures for the strengthening of the Russian trade 
with China at Kiakhta, Rear Admiral Evfimii Putiatin observed in 
a report that, although it was as yet impossible to foresee the outcome 
of the recent events in China, it would be advisable for Russia to ex- 
plore more thoroughly her eastern border. It was known that there 
was no reliable port anywhere along the coast from Sakhalin Island 
down to the mouth of the Uda, but the region below had not been 
explored. The very bay between the mainland and the Sakhalin 
Peninsula, which was said to receive the mouth of the Amur was yet 
unknown. And though Krusenstern had surveyed the northern 
part of the island it too deserved closer scrutiny. Putiatin recom- 
mended that these regions be explored and an effort be made to 
find a port more convenient than Okhotsk for dealing with Kam- 
chatka and the Russian colonies in America. At the same time, he 
proposed to take advantage of this opportunity to attempt anew to 
establish relations with Japan. Nicholas I accepted Putiatin's recom- 
mendations and ordered in 1843 that an expedition be dispatched to 
China and Japan to negotiate concerning commercial relations, in- 
vestigating at the same time the estuary and mouth of the Amur 
River to determine whether the Amur was inaccessible from the sea 
and whether the entrance was guarded by the Chinese. 8 

Count Karl Robert Nesselrode, Chancellor and Minister of Foreign 
Affairs, objected to the expedition, for fear it precipitate a break 
with China or England, but Nicholas I persisted in his plans, com- 
manding that Putiatin himself outfit the expedition in the Black 
Sea. The expedition would have no doubt taken place, had Nesselrode 
not succeeded in gaining over the support of Count Egor Kankrin, 

sSgibnev, "Popytki," 71-72; Segawa, 264; Novakovskii, 143-152; Polonskii, 571-572. 



the Minister of Finance, who dreaded the thought of "wasting" 
250,000 rubles on such a venture. Dwelling on the uselcssness of 
such an expedition he remarked in his memorial to the Emperor: 
"In view of the undevelopment, or to put it better the non-existence 
of our trade in the Pacific Ocean and the lack of prospects that this 
trade might ever even exist without our consolidation in the Amur 
region, the only useful purpose of the dispatch of E. V. Putiatin 
would be, I suppose, the mission to ascertain, among other things, 
the veracity of the conviction that the mouth of the Amur River is 
inaccessible, a circumstance, which conditions the extent to which 
this river and the region that it waters are of importance to Russia." 
But to learn this, Kankrin observed, no such costly expedition was 
required. For financial and political reasons, he recommended that 
the government refrain from sending a large expedition of its own, 
but act more discreetly through the Russian-American Company. 
Nicholas I duly cancelled the expedition to China and Japan, and 
in 1844 the Russian-American Company was asked to explore the 
mouth of the Amur River at government expense. 

On May 17, 1846, the small brig Konstantin set sail. In his in- 
structions to Gavrilov, the commander of the vessel, Mikhail Teben- 
kov, the director of the North American colonies, had noted: 

It is reported that there are at the mouth of the Amur a settlement 
of Russian fugitives from beyond the Baikal and a large Chinese military 
force. You must, therefore, take all measures of precaution to avoid 
hostile clashes with the Chinese and to hide from them that your vessel 
is Russian. Secretly enter into dealings with the Russian fugitives and 
promise them an amnesty. Should you encounter shallow water at the 
entrance to the estuary you must not subject the vessel to danger, as it is 
positively known, that the mouth of the river is inaccessible. 9 

Gavrilov found neither Russian fugitives nor a Manchu force; 
but neither did he find a satisfactory fairway into the river. Ordered 
to take supplies to fur-hunters on the Kuril Islands and to return 
to the colonies the same season, he did not have time to explore the 
mouth more thoroughly, and was forced to report that it could be 
approached only by vessels with a shallow draft. His findings were 
incomplete rather than negative — he stated that it was not possible 
to conclude from his findings whether or not the mouth of the 
Amur was really accessible from the sea. In the absence of anything 

9 Novakovskii, 152-153. 



more positive, however, Nesselrode saw no reason to question con- 
clusions of earlier explorers and ordered that henceforth the matter 
of the Amur River be considered for ever closed and that all relating 
correspondence be held secret. 10 

Although concerned primarily with exploration of the Amur 
Estuary, Gavrilov had visited Etorofu twice with a letter from Rikord 
in the attempt to establish commercial relations with the Japanese. 
In this he had not been successful, but six years later his company 
once more approached the Japanese. 

Russian interest in Japan declined from time to time, but never 
completely died out. There were always men to revive it. The cap- 
tivity of Golovnin and the mediation of Takadaya were not an 
isolated and forgotten chapter in history. It had aroused in Rikord 
a permanent interest in Japan, and in 1850, when Rikord was an 
admiral and a person of influence, he sent a memorandum to Grand 
Duke Konstantin Nikolaevich, the Lord High Admiral. As others 
before him, Rikord saw in Japan a desirable source of supplies for 
"the distant regions of Kamchatka and the whole of eastern Siberia." 
He reviewed in the memorandum his informative conversations with 
Takadaya Kahei and Murakami Teisuke at the time of his liberation 
of Golovnin and told of his unremitting concern with Japanese 
affairs in the thirty-seven years since then. Having established his 
position as an expert — "not only in Russia but in all of Europe 
there is hardly anyone who can vie with me in information about 
Japan" — he proceeded to suggest ways and means of overcoming 
Japanese opposition to relations with Russia. A Russian warship 
was about to be dispatched to the Pacific, and he assured the Lord 
High Admiral that his plan, regarding the opening of Japan, required 
no special outlay on the part of the government "because all that 
concerns the fulfillment of this will consist of my person alone." He 
stressed the importance of rank in dealing with the Japanese and 
recommended the appointment of as high a personage as possible in 
name if not in fact. When he had negotiated with the Japanese in 
the past, he had inflated his position to that of Military Governor 
of Kamchatka. He was prepared for "extraordinary exaggeration" 
of the significance of his present status, but suggested that in the 
absence of a navy of their own, the Japanese would pay greater heed 
to one (himself?) holding the rank of Military Governor General of 

10 Tikhmenev, n, 53; Novakovskii, 153-154. 



Siberia. Relating that he had learned in England of the interception 
of a letter in which the Dutch factor boasted of having dissuaded 
the Japanese from coming to terms with Rezanov, Rikord proposed 
the conclusion of a preliminary understanding with the Dutch, in 
which Russia would agree to exclusive Dutch operation in all parts 
of Japan other than the northern regions. With Dutch cooperation 
Rikord thought it likely that Japanese consent to dealings with 
Russia could at last be attained. If the Japanese again refused, Rikord 
continued, there was justification in their treacherous seizure of 
Golovnin to take resolute action against them. He realized that the 
size and self-sacrifice of the Japanese population precluded an in- 
vasion of their country. 

But there is another way, which demands neither outlay nor actions 
directly hostile, yet which at the same time can undoubtedly make it 
necessary for the Japanese to agree to friendly relations with us, and 
to show them how many harmful consequences may otherwise follow 
from their stubbornness, consequences for which they will not have the 
right to reproach us, keeping in mind their treatment of Golovnin, 
which by their own concepts and admission deserves revenge on our part, 
and thus justifies our actions. 

In Japan there are no overland roads for the delivery of provisions 
as well as other necessities from one point of their extensive country 
to another, and therefore all transportation is made by means of coast- 
ing vessels (1850). The presence of a warship of ours in the Strait of 
Matsumae will suffice to keep them in constant fear and from time to 
time to carry out attacks, greatly removed from direct hostility, on their 
coasting vessels, which come and leave with provisions, stopping them 
and taking from them the cargoes, leaving untouched the vessels them- 
selves and the persons on board: we have need neither of their vessels nor 
their men. Here there will also be the advantage for us, that we shall 
be obtaining without any expense the freshest and best provisions, which 
they will have to lose solely because of their stubbornness. 11 

On June 10, 1852, on orders from the director of the colonies, 
the Kniaz Menshikov, under the command of Shipmaster Linden- 
berg, departed from Novo-Arkhangelsk, and, clearing Sitka Bay, set 
course for Shimoda Harbor, with seven Japanese castaways on board. 
Slowed down by weather, the Kniaz Menshikov did not reach Izu 
Peninsula, on the southwestern part of which Shimoda is situated, 
until August 9. As the Russians approached a little island in the 
center of the bay, Japanese on several boats hurried out to them 

11 Admiral Petr Ivanovich Rikord, "Zapiska, predstavlennaia im general-admiralu 
E. I. V. Velikomu Kniaziu Konstantinu Nikolaevichu v 1850 g.," 177-182. 



to persuade them not to go further, but Lindenberg ignored them 
and penetrated deeper into the bay, past the roadstead, into the 
harbor itself, before the Japanese could stop him, and cast anchor 
at a depth of about forty-two feet. No sooner had the Kniaz Men- 
shikov cast anchor in the picturesque, but open bay, than she was 
overrun by hundreds of curious visitors, who refused to take turns, 
since they would not be able to board the vessel once the governor 
arrived. Before long the governor of Shimoda came out with a 
large retinue to question the castaways and inspect the ship, noting 
down everything carefully. 

Lindenberg invited the Japanese officials to his cabin and there 
explained to them the purpose of his arrival, adding that he had 
a paper from the chairman of the board of the company to the 
governor of the city, that he wished to present it and to receive a 
reply. The governor thanked the Russians in the name of the Jap- 
anese nation for having brought to their homeland his shipwrecked 
compatriots and for many things done for them during their stay in 
Russia, indicating through gestures that such behavior on the part 
of the Russians moved him to the verge of tears. He added, however, 
that, without special permission from Edo, he could accept neither 
the paper nor the castaways. After much persuasion on the part of 
Lindenberg, the Japanese finally agreed to look at the paper, but, 
after scanning it, declared, with due respect, that, although the 
writing was like that of his country, he could not understand the 
meaning, and that, as he was not allowed to accept the paper, he be 
permitted to copy it; the paper was in Chinese and he supposed, 
if he might copy, it could be understood by the Chinese interpre- 
ters. Lindenberg agreed to this to expedite matters — the history of 
Russo-Japanese relations having proved that the Japanese refused 
to accept any document, whose content they did not know before- 
hand — and the governor himself took out brush and ink and im- 
mediately copied the paper. Having done so, he asked if the Russians 
needed anything. Lindenberg told him that they would like to have 
fresh provisions, fish or meat, and that of course he would pay for 
them. The governor readily agreed, and water, chickens, eggs, and 
fresh fish (but not meat) were later supplied. Before leaving, he 
announced that he would post guard boats alongside the ship and 
that Lindenberg was to send no one ashore. Should he himself wish 
to go ashore, he should first notify the governor, who would then 
accompany him. Lindenberg would have liked to go ashore then 


R E N E \ V E D P R E S S U R E 

and there, but it was already dark and he was afraid that the in- 
appropriate display of curiosity would arouse Japanese suspicion. 
And so six guard boats were posted. 

The next day the governor came again. Once more he interrogated 
the castaways in detail about their experiences — their shipwreck, 
their stay in Russia, the treatment and food they had received — and 
asked questions about Kamchatka, Okhotsk, Sitka, the Kuril Islands 
and other areas close to Japan. Then he inspected the Kniaz Men- 
shikov again, directing his attention particularly to the weapons of 
ship and crew, and asked whether additional arms and ammunition 
were stored in the hold of the ship. Japanese artists meanwhile 
sketched various parts of the vessel. When Lindenberg, having in- 
vited the officials to his cabin, expressed the intention of going 
ashore, however, the governor refused him on the ground that he 
did not have the authority to permit this without special sanction 
from the government. Lindenberg reminded him of the promise 
he had made just the day before, but the governor, though em- 
barrassed, remained adamant in his refusal. Nevertheless relations 
continued to be amicable for several days. The Japanese visited the 
Kniaz Menshikov on business only and categorically refused to accept 
gifts or to buy anything (saying that trade with foreigners was con- 
fined by law to Nagasaki), yet they enjoyed visiting and gave the 
impression of being generally well-disposed toward the Russians. 
But with every day the strictness of Japanese surveillance increased. 
The number of guard boats grew and the soldiers, who manned them, 
isolated the Russians from the population. Behind the facade of 
friendliness and gratitude for the repatriation of the castaways, there 
was concern about the arrival of the strangers and their violation 
of the seclusion laws. From all sides, heavily armed troops began con- 
verging on Shimoda. 12 

. . . whole caravans with laden buffaloes and horses stretched past our 
ship along the seashore which was traversed by a road from the interior 
of the country to the city of Shimoda, and although, because of the dark- 
ness of twilight, we were not able to behold what they were conveying, 
one must suppose, however, that it was cannons, inasmuch as soon there 
appeared among the trees on shore opposite the ship at a distance of 
one and a half cable's lengths flag-topped tents, that looked very much 
like concealed batteries. 13 

12 Shipmaster Lindenberg, "O plavanii v Iaponiiu korablia Rossiisko-Amerikanskoi 
kompanii 'Kniaz Menshikov' v 1852 g.," 131-135; Novakovskii, 155-157. 
is Lindenberg, 135. 



The governor and his officials still continued to visit the vessel 
and to thank the Russians with every mark of sincerity for having 
been so gracious to their compatriots, and take note of Lindenberg's 
assurance that the repeated repatriation of Japanese castaways was 
proof of Russian friendship. 

On August 12, the vice-governor of Odawara came aboard. He 
too examined the ship and interrogated the castaways. When Linden- 
berg asked when the castaways could be handed over, the vice- 
governor replied that they were awaiting instructions from the cap- 
ital, and that the governor of Odawara would arrive together with 
these instructions. Lindenberg offered to pay for the provisions, 
which he had received, but the official refused to accept compensa- 
tion on the pretext that Japanese assistance had amounted to nothing 
compared with what the Russians had done for the castaways and 
brushed aside Lindenberg's argument, that to accept anything with- 
out charge was inconsistent with Russian honor. 

On the evening of August 13, the governor of Odawara was seen 
to arrive in Shimoda with a large military retinue. The following 
day, on August 14, the vice-governor of Odawara came aboard again 
and asked that the castaways be called together. When they had 
gathered on deck, he addressed them. Bent over low, they listened 
with respect, but suddenly the immobile expression of respectful 
submission, which had masked their faces, was distorted into gri- 
maces of sorrow, and loud sobs gave vent to their utter despair. When 
Lindenberg asked what was the matter, one of the castaways ex- 
plained that the governor had announced to them that they could 
not return to their fatherland, but must remain with the Russians. 
The refusal was even more painful, because the castaways had never 
doubted that they would be permitted to land. Lindenberg did not 
wish to remonstrate with the vice-governor in public and asked 
him to step down to his cabin. In the cabin the vice-governor in- 
formed Lindenberg that the orders, which had arrived from the 
capital, forbade him to accept either the castaways or any documents. 
They stated unequivocally that Shimoda was not open to foreigners 
and that he must not enter into any dealings with the Russians. 
Under the circumstances, the vice-governor noted, he must ask 
Lindenberg to depart at once. In vain Lindenberg pleaded that 
this decision was cruel and absurd; it had been the sole purpose 
of his arrival to return these unfortunate people to their homeland 
and families. He even threatened that, if the Japanese did not accept 



them now, another vessel would bring them again the following 
year and that, eventually, they would have to aecept them anyway. 
But the vice-governor replied that the answer of the Japanese would 
always be the same, that it was the will of their government and 
that there was nothing that Lindenbcrg could accomplish in Shi- 
moda. The official spoke with determination, yet it was clear that 
he himself found no joy in the reply. It was evident to Lindenberg, 
as he looked into the faces of the vice-governor and all the other 
Japanese, "that inside them they did not approve of this decision, 
though they had to comply with it." He asked, therefore, to speak 
with the governor of Odawara, but the vice-governor retorted that 
this was not possible and begged him to hasten away while the wind 
was favorable. As it was, the vice-governor remarked, Lindenberg 
had been extended unusual consideration in not having been asked 
to surrender his arms and ammunition during his stay. He sug- 
gested, furthermore, that Lindenberg might try to hand the cast- 
aways over at Nagasaki. But Lindenberg regarded this merely as a 
means of expediting his departure and stated, therefore, that he 
could not go to Nagasaki without orders from his government. He 
had been instructed to deliver the castaways to Shimoda, and, if 
the vice-governor would not receive them, he would simply put them 
in a boat and send them ashore. At the thought that Lindenberg 
might do so in this harbor, the vice-governor jumped up in panic 
and was about to hurry away, when Lindenberg calmed him with 
the assurance that, though he had come to repatriate the castaways, 
he had no intention of damaging relations between the Japanese 
and Russia by flaunting their decrees. Yet, he too had orders to obey, 
and if he could not land the castaways here, he would have to do 
so elsewhere. To this the governor did not object. What Linden- 
berg did elsewhere was none of his concern. But now, he repeated, 
the vessel must leave without delay. 

In his report to the governor of the colonies, Lindenberg explained 
his next step: 

Deeming it unwise, if not impossible, to put the Japanese ashore here by 
force, and not seeing means of compelling the governor to accept the 
paper of Your Excellency against his will and being sure that in the 
event that I persisted the Japanese would resort to hostile measures, in 
view of the preparations they had made for this, and though the accuracy 
of Japanese shots is not dangerous, not wishing to expose the flag to 
humiliation having neither the permission of Your Excellency nor the 



means successfully to meet force with force, I decided not to let it come 
to this, and seeing no other way out of the difficult situation, I was 
forced to give in, and therefore declared to the vice-governor, that inas- 
much as he did not accept his compatriots and did not wish to enter 
into any dealings with me, there was nothing left for me to do here, 
and that in line with his request I was ready to go out to sea, but that 
nonetheless I would put the Japanese ashore right here in the vicinity. 14 

Towed out by twenty large barges, the Kniaz Menshikov left 
Shimoda. The castaways were heartbroken. They told Lindenberg 
that they did not wish to proceed any further, but wanted to be put 
ashore where they were, even though this meant certain death. Head- 
ing for China, where every foot of space would be needed for tea, 
Lindenberg readily considered the plea, and in a small bay some 
five miles from Shimoda Harbor, in the vicinity of Nakagi village, 
he let the Japanese head ashore in two boats brought along for the 
purpose. Once again the Russian-American Company had failed to 
make a visible dent in the seclusion policy of the Shogunate. But 
every expedition was another blow at the wall of isolation, which 
the Japanese had erected. By itself, no single blow had a telling 
effect. But together they slowly weakened the foundation, until, 
only two years after Lindenberg's failure, increased pressure from 
different sides brought a large part of the wall of isolation tumbling 
down. Before Lindenberg had returned to Russia, another expedi- 
tion, sponsored on a much larger scale by the government itself, 
was already on its way to Japan, and, though it was to call at Naga- 
saki, where the Japanese had directed the Russians so persistently, it 
would be at Shimoda that the first treaty between Russia and Japan 
would be signed. 15 


One of the major stepping-stones from Russia to Japan was Sa- 
khalin Island. The Russians had landed there repeatedly. Shelting 
had partly surveyed its shores in 1742, and Khvostov and Davydov 
had done so more thoroughly in 1806-1 807. 16 Khvostov and Davydov 

14 Ibid., 136-138; Novakovskii, 157-158. 

is Lindenberg, 138-139; Novakovskii, 158-159; Heki, Koku-shi, v, 38. 

is Rezanov had heard of a Russian settlement on Sakhalin in the eighteenth century. 
Nothing is known about it, but when Mogami Tokunai arrived on the island in 1792, 
he found a Russian by the name of Ivan, who had been living on the island for a long 
time. (Numata Iichiro, Nichi-Ro gaiko-shi, 7; Minakawa, 117-119.) According to Japa- 
nese sources the Russians first set foot on Sakhalin in 1783 (Ota, 349) and during the 



had even left five sailors on the island to announce its annexation 
by Russia to the vessels of other nations. But, though some imperial- 
ists in later years were to lay claim to Sakhalin on the ground that 
the stay of these sailors constituted prior Russian settlement, the 
Russian government had disassociated itself from the aggression of 
Khvostov and Davydov. 17 The Japanese had visited Sakhalin as early 
as the seventeenth century, when fishermen had established posts in 
the southern half of the island. Sato Kamozaemon and Kakizaki 
Kurando are said to have been ordered to inspect Sakhalin in 1635; 
the explorer Oishi Ippei went across in 1786. Since Hokkaido itself 
was not seriously colonized until the nineteenth century, relatively 
little attention was paid by the Japanese to Sakhalin until the raids 
of Khvostov and Davydov. Then, in 1806, the noted explorer Mamiya 
Rinzo charted and described the island and focused attention on its 
defense against Russian encroachment. 18 

Sakhalin was important as a stepping-stone from Russia to Japan 
only if the Amur River were in Russian hands. Yet, an attempt, in 
the late seventeenth century, to acquire the Amur region by diplo- 
matic negotiation with Manchu China had failed, and the miscon- 
ception that Sakhalin was a peninsula blocking the mouth of the 
river deflected the attention of the Russian government toward 
Europe, and Nicholas I, on Nesselrode's recommendation, decreed 
that the Amur question be dropped. But not everyone agreed. 

Most notable among those, who persisted in the conviction that 
the Amur was accessible from the sea and that Sakhalin was an 
island, was Captain Gennadii Nevelskoi, a naval officer of inde- 
pendent character and fervor, not readily bridled by instructions 
from above. Fanatically devoted to the cause of Russian expansion, 
he had studied with care the various expeditions to the Amur. When 
he concluded that the explorations had not been thorough enough, 
he refused to accept as final the verdict that the Amur must be ex- 
plored no further. In this he won the sympathetic support of the 
governor general of Siberia, Nikolai Muravev (later known as 

Temmei period (1781-1788). (Otomo, Hokumon sosho, in, 466-467.) It is not clear 
whether or not these observations refer to the expedition of Petr, son of Rihachiro, all 
members of which purportedly had been slain by the natives. 

17 Golovnin considered the southern part of Sakhalin as Japanese, the northern part 
as Chinese. (Golovnin, Zapiski, in, 109-110, 119-120.) 

is Mamiya Rinzo had been preceded by Mogami Tokunai in 1792. Even Russian 
sources date the first Japanese visits to Sakhalin back to 1613. (Anton Chekhov, Ostrov 
Sakhalin, 16.) 



Muravev-Amurskii), when he expounded his views to him. 19 But the 
chief of the naval staff, Prince Aleksandr Menshikov, rejected, in 
1848, Nevelskoi's request for permission to explore the mouth and 
the estuary of the Amur. He explained that the vessel would be 
completed too late in the season; that the funds, allotted for its 
voyage to the Siberian ports, with much needed supplies, were 
inadequate for continuing it beyond the present year; that it had 
been proven positively that the mouth of the Amur was blocked 
by sandbanks; and that Nesselrode would never approve, because 
such a venture might bring about complications with China. Nevel- 
skoi's ambition was not quenched that easily, however. All that 
these objections meant, he reflected, was that he would have to work 
rapidly enough, so that time and funds did suffice, and that he would 
have to engineer the project in such a way that the exploration of 
the Amur could be executed as if by chance, incidental to the de- 
scription of the southwestern shores of the Sea of Okhotsk. Indus- 
triously Nevelskoi succeeded in speeding up the construction of 
the transport Baikal and obtained Menshikov's permission for a 
different method of loading the vessel, which dispensed with much 
time-consuming red tape. Menshikov did not authorize the explora- 
tion of the southwestern shores of the Sea of Okhotsk, noting that, 
important as he himself also thought it, Nesselrode regarded the 
territory as Chinese, and that though Muravev had pointed out that 
the treaty with China left this region undelineated, Nesselrode 
wished to avoid complications with the Chinese. But neither did 
Menshikov explicitly forbid the exploration of the Okhotsk shores, 
and Nevelskoi rushed preparations for an early departure. At the 
same time, he wrote a letter to Muravev requesting his support. He 
expected to reach Kamchatka in May of 1849. It would take him a 
fortnight to unload his cargo; the rest of the summer he could devote 
to the exploration of the Okhotsk shores down to the Amur River, 
of the Amur itself and its estuary, and of the northeastern shore 
of Sakhalin Island. In view of the importance of these regions to 
eastern Siberia, of which Muravev was governor general, he asked 
whether Muravev could not get him the necessary permission and 
outlined the type of instructions that he required. In July Nevelskoi 
received a reply, in which Muravev praised him highly for his patri- 
otic ardor and said that instructions had been drawn up for him on 
the basis of those he had proposed himself, that Prince Menshikov 

19 Tikhmenev, n, 39-61; Nevelskoi, 74-75. 



and Minister of the Interior Lev Perovskii were sympathetic, and 
that there was reason to hope that the Emperor would approve the 

On February 10, 1849, there was appointed by order of Nicholas 
I a committee in which the Amur question was discussed. On the 
recommendation of this committee, the Emperor sanctioned, on 
February 20, the exploration of the mouth of the Amur River. The 
committee expressed it desirable that neither the left bank of the 
Amur nor the part of Sakhalin Island opposite it be occupied by 
any foreign power. It warned, however, against alarming the Chinese, 
and Nesselrode proposed that the Amur be approached from the 
sea under some innocent looking pretext by a small expedition un- 
der a commander noted for caution. He added that in the event 
that England or another foreign power should make any attempt to 
encroach on the Amur River or Sakhalin Island, the Chinese should 
be informed thereof in order to dispel whatever suspicions they 
might harbor against Russia. Nevelskoi was not noted for caution, 
but, since he had already departed for the shores of the Okhotsk Sea 
in the beginning of September 1848, Nesselrode, eager to carry out 
the matter quietly, felt it best to use him, and Nevelskoi was ordered 
to survey the shores of the Sea of Okhotsk from the Shantar Islands 
to the mouth of the Amur, as well as the northern shores of Sakhalin. 
In this region, preferably near the mouth of the Amur, he was to 
earmark an advantageous point for possible occupation at a later 

Nevelskoi meanwhile was already en route from Kronstadt to 
Kamchatka by way of Cape Horn. At Rio de Janeiro, he mailed a 
letter to Muravev in which he wrote that he expected to reach 
Petropavlovsk in May and planned, after unloading his cargo, to 
embark directly on the description of the eastern shores of Sakhalin 
and the Amur Estuary and requested Muravev's help in the event 
that imperial permission for such action had not been granted by 
that time. In Petropavlovsk, Nevelskoi received a secret note from 
Muravev in which he communicated the instructions submitted for 
imperial approval. They ordered Nevelskoi to proceed to northern 
Sakhalin in order to look for a roadstead or sheltered harbor there 
and to explore the Amur River from this direction. He was to in- 
vestigate the approaches to the river and the river itself, locate suit- 
able defense positions, and determine whether Sakhalin was a penin- 
sula. Should he find that it was an island, he was to explore the 

2 74 


strait, which separated it from the mainland, and seek out a place 
from where the southern approaches of the Amur could be guarded. 
He was instructed also to chart the southwestern shore of the Sea 
of Okhotsk and Konstantin Bay. These explorations Nevelskoi was 
to carry out unobtrusively, without flying a Russian flag, naval or 
commercial, and in rowboats, leaving the transport behind at Cape 
Golovachev. The importance of keeping this expedition and its 
findings secret was emphasized and Nevelskoi was instructed to make 
a secret report of everything as soon as possible to Menshikov and 
to Muravev. It was hoped that, before the end of September, he 
could be back in Okhotsk and start out with all his officers for St. 
Petersburg. Muravev expressed the belief that the instructions would 
be approved, but Nevelskoi did not await confirmation. In mid-June 
1849, he weighed anchor, informing Muravev in another letter that 
he was setting sail for Sakhalin and the Amur Estuary, in the north- 
ern part of which he hoped to be before the middle of July. 20 

On June 24, the Baikal reached the eastern shores of Sakhalin, 
and turning northward proceeded to examine the coastline from 
about latitude 5i°37'N. Rounding the northern projection of the 
island, the Baikal continued southwestward, down the western shore 
of Sakhalin. The exploration of these waters and the search for the 
Amur Estuary were a slow and hazardous process. The transport 
was repeatedly caught on sandbanks. On July 9, 21 the Russians 
entered the estuary. In the face of mounting dangers, Nevelskoi 
doggedly persisted in his investigations. Accompanied by three of- 
ficers, the doctor, and fourteen seamen in three boats, and supplied 
with provisions for three weeks, he explored the lower reaches of 
the Amur River and found them navigable. Resuming his south- 
ward penetration, he discovered at last, on August 3, 1849, a navi- 
gable strait about four miles in width, that separated Sakhalin from 
the mainland, and proved thereby that Sakhalin was an island and 
that the Amur could be entered by ships both from the Sea of Okhotsk 
in the north and Tatar Strait in the south. 22 

The discovery proved that eastern Siberia was effectively connected 
with the Sea of Japan and the Pacific Ocean by the Amur River and 

201. p. Barsukov, Graf Nikolai Nikolaevich Muravev- Amur shit, I, 195-198; Nevelskoi, 

21 Barsukov gives the dates one day ahead. 

22 The "Bay" or "Gulf" of Tatary thus was a strait, and though "Tatar Strait" is 
used here, Nevelskoi himself hy force of hahit continued to refer to the strait as the 
Bay or Gulf of Tatary, a name it has retained on most maps. 




Cape Kril'on (Notoro) 

ll'inskii Post (Kushunnai) 

Murav'evskii Post (Tomari, 
""* \ KushunkotanJ 
Busse Bay 

Cope Aniwa 


La Perouse Strait 

The Occupation of Sakhalin 

that consequently possession of the Amur region would be of utmost 
importance to Russia. For this reason Nevelskoi recommended to 
Muravev, shortly after his return to Irkutsk, that Russia establish 
herself without delay on the lower Amur for fear that she forfeit 
to another power control of the entrance into the river. Muravev 
shared this view, and, in February of 1850, Nevelskoi repeated the 
proposal to Menshikov in St. Petersburg, backed by a report of 
Muravev, urging the occupation of the mouth of the Amur by a 
force of seventy men that very season. Menshikov was sympathetic 
to the proposal and so was Perovskii, but the majority of the Special 
Committee under the chairmanship of Nesselrode distrusted Nevel- 
skoi's findings and resented that he had acted without awaiting 
authorization, not to mention the fact that the Emperor had granted 
permission for the survey of the Amur and its estuary without con- 
sulting them, and they dreaded complications with China. When it 
was decreed, therefore, on February 15, 1850, that Nevelskoi be 
dispatched again to the southwestern shore of the Sea of Okhotsk to 
establish a wintering station, needed by the Russian-American 
Company for trade with the Gilyaks, he was specifically forbidden 
to establish the station either at the Amur Estuary or along the river 
itself, and it was stipulated that under no circumstances was the 
Russian-American Company to have any contact whatsoever with 
the Amur River and its estuary. 

In the Bay of Good Fortune, to the north of the Amur Estuary, 
Nevelskoi established the wintering station Petrovskoe Zimov'e, com- 
monly called simply Petrovskoe. Undaunted, he then proceeded into 
the Amur River, and brazenly announced to a group of Manchus 
and to native tribesmen that this whole region — the river, the mari- 
time area, and Sakhalin Island — had always been regarded as Russian 
by his countrymen and that he had been sent to inform them that 
the great Emperor of Russia was taking them under his protection, 
fortified posts being established to safeguard them from the aggres- 
sion of foreign vessels. He commanded that all foreigners be shown 
the following proclamation: 

In the name of the Russian Government all foreign vessels sailing in 
the Gulf of Tatary are hereby notified that inasmuch as the shore of this 
gulf and the whole Amur region down to the Korean frontier as well as 
Sakhalin Island constitute Russian possessions, neither unauthorized dis- 
positions nor injuries to the inhabitants can be tolerated here. For this 
purpose Russian military posts have now been established in the Bay of 



Iskai [Good Fortune] and in the mouth of the Amur River. The under- 
signed, who has been sent by the government as plenipotentiary, suggests 
that one turn to the commanders of these posts in case of any needs or 
of a clash with the local inhabitants. 23 

On August 13, 1850, Nevelskoi on his own responsibility established 
the six-man Nikolaevskii Post and boldly hoisted the Russian flag- 
over the Amur. 

When Nesselrode and Minister of War Prince Aleksandr Cherny- 
shev learned of this, they were outraged and wished to cashier 
Nevelskoi and remove the post on the Amur. It was then that 
Nicholas I made the ringing declaration that "where once the Rus- 
sian flag has flown, it must not be lowered again," and, instead of 
punishing Nevelskoi, praised his action as courageous, noble, and 
patriotic, and decorated him with the Cross of Vladimir, Fourth 
Class. At the same time the Tsar took the chairmanship of the Special 
Committee out of the hands of Nesselrode, and appointed, in his 
stead, Crown Prince Aleksandr Nikolaevich (later Alexander II). 24 
Nevelskoi was to remain in direct command of the posts and related 
activities — the whole venture being named the Amur Expedition. 
Encouraged by imperial patronage, Nevelskoi continued to extend 
the sway of the Russian Empire. Jubilantly, he recorded that, after a 
lapse of two centuries, Russians had advanced once more into the 
wastes of the Amur region, praying to the Almighty for courage and 
fortitude. Again Russian shots were fired, but not to murder or 
subjugate, only to salute the Russian banner. "These shots greeted 
the victory of truth over century-old error! They greeted in the 
wastes of the Amur region the victory of civilization over ignorance 
and the dawn of the near realization of the ideas of Peter I and 
Catherine II in our remote East." 25 

Toward the end of 1851, four Gilyaks from Sakhalin Island arrived 
in Petrovskoe. On one of them the Russians noticed a button made 
of coal. On inquiring, they learned that there was coal on Sakhalin. 
They heard also that five Russians (no doubt those left by Khvostov) 
had lived on the island and that the last of the five had just recently 
died; these Russians, the Gilyaks stated, had arrived much earlier 
than any Japanese. Greatly interested, Nevelskoi dispatched Lieu- 

23 Nevelskoi, 92-121; Novakovskii, 160. 

24 On February 27, 1851 Russia informed the government of China that it intended 
to watch over the mouth of the Amur. (Konstantin Apollonovich Skalkovskii, Vnesh- 
niaia politika Rossii i polozhenie inostranykh derzhav, 451-452.) 

25 Nevelskoi, 122-125, 142. 



tenant Boshniak and two men 26 across the ice to Sakhalin in February 
of 1852, ordering them to locate the coal deposits and to determine 
their accessibility, to determine the most populous and important 
point of the island, the relationship of the inhabitants to China and 
Japan, the arrival of foreign vessels, and to ascertain whether Rus- 
sians had really lived there. When Boshniak returned a month later, 
he brought back not only the desired information about the coal 
fields and their accessibility and evidence that Russians had lived on 
Sakhalin, but also an alleged plea by the natives that the Russians 
come and protect them against the forays of foreign vessels. In the 
summer of the same year, Nevelskoi sent Second Lieutenant Voronin 
to Sakhalin on a sloop-of-war in order to investigate the territory and 
waters near the settlement Due, to determine whether a Russian 
settlement could favorably be established there and whether ships 
could come up to take on cargoes of coal. At the same time Voronin 
was to announce to the inhabitants that, since the island was Russian 
territory, they were being taken under Russian protection. Should 
foreign vessels appear, he was to observe them closely and, hoisting 
the Russian flag on the sloop, inform them, in the name of the Rus- 
sian government, that Sakhalin Island and the continental shore of 
Tatar Strait down to the Korean frontier were Russian territory, 
and that no unauthorized acts on their part would be tolerated. 

In the early months of 1853, Nevelskoi extended Russian occupa- 
tion along the Amur River and the maritime region to the settlement 
Kizi and to De-Kastri Bay, pleading constantly in letters to Muravev 
for more men, more vessels, and more supplies to ensure Russian 
domination of the Amur and Ussuri regions and of Sakhalin. He was 
much concerned about foreign encroachment and, when he learned 
toward the end of May about the possible appearance of the vessels 
of the American expeditions of Commodore Matthew C. Perry (who 
hoped to establish diplomatic and commercial relations with Japan) 
and of Commander Cadwalader Ringgold (who was to make a scien- 
tific investigation of the Pacific shores up to Bering Strait), he imme- 
diately sent word to Nikolaevsk that, should the Americans come 
to De-Kastri, they be welcomed amicably and politely, but told that 
navigation in the Amur Estuary was not only difficult, but extremely 
dangerous for low-lying vessels and completely impossible for vessels 
of medium class, that this whole region was waste, mountainous, and 

26 The Gilyak Pozvein who spoke Tungusic and Ainu and the Cossack Parfentev who 
also spoke Tungusic. 



without means of communication, and that all of it down to the 
Korean frontier and including Sakhalin had always belonged to 
Russia. This claim was to be justified on the basis of the Treaty of 
Nerchinsk with China (1689), the occupation of Sakhalin by Rus- 
sian Tungus in the seventeenth century, the description of the island 
in 1742 (by Shelting), and the occupation of its southern part in 
180G (by Khvostov). 27 

While Nevelskoi thrust deeper into the Far East, Muravev was 
kept busy wringing the necessary authorizations from the govern- 
ment post factum. Advanced as Nevelskoi usually was in his actions, 
Muravev was not far behind in making zealous plans for the Amur 
region. On March 3, 1852, in a report about conditions in Siberia, 
he expressed the fear that China and Japan were falling into English 
and American hands. "In accordance with the project of Palmer," 28 
American steamships would soon hasten to Japan, "armed and ready 
for battle," and, though Colovnin had pointed to Japan some forty 
years ago, "now, of course, she is already lost for us." But there was 
still the opportunity for Russia to reach "at least secondary impor- 
tance in these seas," he argued, if she acted promptly to open naviga- 
tion on the Amur River, whose upper reaches she possessed. 29 

The outfitting of an American expedition to Japan smoothed the 
path for Muravev in St. Petersburg in selling Nevelskoi's plans for 
the occupation of points on Sakhalin, and on July 23, 1853, Nevelskoi 
received the long awaited imperial instructions (dated April 23): 

(1) The Russian-American Company is to occupy Sakhalin Island and 
to hold it on the same basis as it holds other lands mentioned in its 

(2) To promise the Company that officers and men will be put at its 
full disposal for the occupation of Sakhalin and for the defense of Com- 
pany establishments thereon. These men will be considered in the service 
of the Company and will be fully maintained by it. 

(3) To occupy on Sakhalin those points, which according to local 
considerations will be found most important; this is to be begun without 
fail during the navigation of this year 1853, and from the year 1854 the 
Company must have there its own special governor who from a political 
standpoint will be under the command of the Governor General of 

27 Nevelskoi, 141-182, 194-198, 201-204. 

28 The intrepid businessman Aaron Haight Palmer of New York. For a discussion 
of his role in the outfitting of an American expedition to Japan, see Claude S. Phillips, 
Jr., "Some Forces Behind the Opening of Japan." 

29 Barsukov, 1, 308-309. 



Eastern Siberia or another governmental chief commander, who will be 
indicated by the Emperor. 

(4) The Company must not allow on Sakhalin any foreign settlements, 
either arbitrary or by mutual agreement, and can transfer this island 
only to the government. 

(5) The government makes use on Sakhalin Island of coal for govern- 
mental needs without compensation, but mines it at its own expense. 

(6) For the protection of the shores of the island and the harbors 
against the intrusion of foreigners, the Company commits itself to main- 
tain a sufficient number of vessels, but in case of a military attack demands 
troops for defense from the government. 

(7) During the initial occupation of Sakhalin Island this year, there 
can be used with permission of the Governor General military personnel 
and resources of the Amur expedition under the command of the com- 
mander of that Amur expedition; however, it must be completely separate 
from the Sakhalin expedition and remain as before under the direct 
command of the government. 

(8) The Company authorities must direct their demands concerning 
the assignment to them of officers and men to the Governor General of 
Eastern Siberia, and the latter is obliged to carry out this demand without 
delay; however, the governing board of the Company may in case of need 
turn with questions concerning this subject also to the higher government 
should it be necessary and convenient to send officers and soldiers from 
Baltic ports to Sakhalin on vessels making round-the-world cruises. 

(9) Officers and men, headed for Sakhalin, must be sent there on 
vessels and at the maintenance of the Company from the very place of 
their former service. 

(10) To appoint this year no less than 100 men from Kamchatka and 
to obligate the Company to maintain them. 

(11) For expenses in connection with this undertaking to release to 
the Company now irrevocably and without any later accounting 50,000 
rubles in silver from the sum, allocated at the disposal of the Governor 
General of Eastern Siberia for the setting up of a special fund for under- 
takings concerning the Gilyaks. 

Forwarding the imperial instructions to Nevelskoi and command- 
ing their immediate execution, Muravev reiterated in a note of his 
own that Nevelskoi was to be in charge of all establishments founded 
by him that year and of all members of the Sakhalin expedition in 
all respects, until the arrival of a special governor on the island in 
1854, and outlined the steps which he deemed necessary to carry out 
the intentions of the government: 

a) To occupy on Sakhalin Island this year two or three points on the 
eastern or western shore, but as far south as possible. 



b) Not to harass the Japanese fishermen who are oil the southern 
extremity of Sakhalin and to show them a friendly disposition, assuring 
them that we are occupying Sakhalin Island in order to guard it against 
the encroachment of foreigners and that under our protection they can 
continue in safety their fishery and trade there. 

c) For the occupation of Sakhalin Island there have been appointed 
now from Kamchatka 100 men with two officers. For the selection of these 
men and their delivery to you, I have assigned Major [Nikolai] Busse, 
who is attached to me. I have ordered [Aleksandr] Kashevarov [com- 
mandant of the port of AianJ to send to the harbor of Good Fortune — 
Petrovskoe — the timber prepared in Aian for the wintering of the men 
on Sakhalin and one vessel for your disposition; it must remain there to 
winter; concerning the personnel I sent instructions to Zavoiko and con- 
sider it necessary to notify you that Major Busse must deliver to you the 
designated detachment, with the two officers and with all provision sup- 
plies, arms, and everything necessary for the building, as well as goods 
to Petrovskoe toward the end of July [first half of August], but in no case 
later than August 1 [13] or 4 [16]. 

d) In the event that you should consider it necessary immediately upon 
receipt of this to occupy some points on Sakhalin prior to the arrival of 
the designated men, this is left to be done at your discretion with those 
means, which you have in the expedition entrusted to you. 

e) In the beginning [middle] of July a 16-power steamer, bought by 
the Company in England, is to come to you in Petrovskoe; you will proba- 
bly get it at the same time as the present instructions; I ask you to make 
use of it in the occupation of Sakhalin; it would be very useful if, with 
the help of this steamer, you would lead the vessel, on which Major Busse 
w r ill come to you, into Tatar Strait by way of the Amur Estuary. You may 
leave this vessel to winter on Sakhalin. 

f) At the places, wdiich you will occupy on Sakhalin, it is necessary to 
place guns and to construct fences or fortifications, and 

g) When N. V. Busse will deliver to you everything, mentioned above, 
you will immediately send him to me with reports. 30 

On May 5, Muravev supplemented these instructions with the 
demand that in the summer Nevelskoi occupy De-Kastri Bay and, 
leaving there a guard of not less than one officer and ten men, estab- 
lish at the neighboring settlement of Kizi a military post for the rein- 
forcement and supplying of De-Kastri. But he warned that "in 
accordance with the Imperial instructions concerning our boundary 
with China, it is not permitted to go beyond De-Kastri and Kizi" 
and ordered Nevelskoi to direct his main attention to Sakhalin. 

Nevelskoi, who had anticipated the occupation of De-Kastri and 
Kizi, was delighted and reassured that the orders covered what he 

so Nevelskoi, 216-218. 



had already done. He was pleased that the government had declared 
Sakhalin a Russian possession, and that he was now free to concen- 
trate on the occupation of the island. But, he was disgruntled that 
the government had focused its attention on Sakhalin to the exclu- 
sion of the Amur region, content to draw the border with China 
along the left bank of the Amur, and decided to occupy Imperator- 
skaia Gavan' and the shore to the south in defiance of instructions. 

Nevelskoi was unable to understand how an officer could hesitate 
to violate, orders, if the situation seemed to demand it. When Major 
Busse informed him by letter that he was in Aian, but would not 
be able to deliver to him the required men and supplies by mid- 
August, as stipulated, because his instructions did not authorize the 
use of government vessels and no company ships were in port, Nevel- 
skoi was infuriated and complained to Muravev about Busse's appar- 
ent "inexperience and ignorance of those important consequences, 
which may result from his indecision," adding venomously that 
"there is nothing more that one can expect from an officer, taken 
directly from the parade ground." Arguing that further delays could 
well be fatal, since to leave men on the barren eastern or western 
shore of Sakhalin in September would be tantamount to abandoning 
them to inevitable sickness or death, and pointing to the fact that 
the imperial instructions regarded the whole of Sakhalin as Russian 
territory, Nevelskoi wrote that he felt it necessary to occupy its main 
point, Tomari, 31 where the troops could readily be landed and quar- 
tered for the winter. He asserted that to occupy any minor point on 
the eastern or western shore of the island, without first gaining con- 
trol over Tomari, might make Russian action appear timid and 
undecided, and would not only be unworthy of Russian dignity, but 
invite trouble with the Japanese government. As if to clinch his case 
for acting again without due authority, Nevelskoi concluded that it 
was essential to be able to prove to the American squadron, which 
was expected to visit Sakhalin, that the island was Russian. Upon 
Busse's arrival with the landing party, therefore, he would proceed 
to establish himself in Aniwa Bay. 

Meanwhile, on July 26, 1853, Nevelskoi departed on the transport 
Baikal for Sakhalin, leaving word that, should Busse arrive during 
his absence, he be instructed not to unload men or supplies, but 
await his return. With D. I. Orlov and fifteen men Nevelskoi sailed 

31 Tomari was located in Aniwa Bay. Nevelskoi referred to it as Tamari-Aniva. 



down the eastern shore of Sakhalin, rounded Capes Aniwa and 
Kril'on, then worked his way northward along the western shore. 
Crossing over to the mainland, he established Konstantinovskii Post 
in Imperatorskaia Gavan' (August 18) and further north, in De-Kastri 
Bay, Aleksandrovskii Post (August 21). Here he went ashore, order- 
ing the transport to return to the western coast of Sakhalin to land 
Orlov and several men in a bay near 50 lat. N., and there, Orlov 
was instructed to establish Il'inskii Post, call together the inhabitants, 
and announce to them, that the island was a Russian possession and 
that they were now under Russian protection. All foreign vessels, 
which Orlov and the commander of the Baikal might meet, were 
also to be informed, in the name of the Russian government, that 
the entire Amur and Ussuri regions as well as Sakhalin were Russian 
territory. Orlov was to explore the southwestern shore of the island 
and by September 27, await Nevelskoi on the east side of Cape 
Kril'on; should the Baikal fail to arrive there by October 2, he was 
to proceed to Tomari, which by then would be in Russian hands. 
The Baikal, meanwhile, having assisted Orlov in the establishment of 
Il'inskii Post, was to cruise about in Tatar Strait, keeping a lookout 
for the American squadron; by September 17, she was to return to 
Petrovskoe. 32 

Nevelskoi himself returned to Petrovskoe on August 29, having 
visited Lake Kizi and having established Mariinskii Post. A company 
vessel, meanwhile, had brought supplies and new personnel (Lieu- 
tenant Commander A. V. Bachmanov and the priest Gavriil and 
their wives) as well as dispatches from the board of directors of the 
company and from Aleksandr Kashevarov, commandant of the Port 
of Aian. The company papers, in conformity with an imperial ukase 
of April 23 and in agreement with Muravev, invested Nevelskoi with 
full authority over the Sakhalin expedition, until the expected arrival 
of Lieutenant Commander Furugelm, who had been appointed gov- 
ernor of the island, some time in 1854. Nevelskoi was informed that 
in addition to the main point, where the government of the island 

32 According to Barsukov, Nevelskoi established Il'inskii Post, manned by six men 
with a Gilyak boat, at the mouth of Kusunai River, at the narrowest part of the island 
on August 8, before crossing over to the mainland coast. This is not corroborated by 
Nevelskoi's narrative, but Nevelskoi's own version may be incorrect. Tikhmenev asserts 
that although Nevelskoi reported to the company that he had established the Il'inskii 
Post, other documents show that he did not in fact have time to do so because of 
the lateness of the season. Barsukov gives slightly different dates for the establishment 
of the other posts: Konstantinovskii (August 13), Aleksandrovskii (August 17). 



would be centered, the company desired no more than two or three 
enclosed Russian outposts, and that he confine himself to the com- 
pany brig Konstantin in transporting his men. Kashevarov communi- 
cated that Busse had set out for Petropavlovsk on the company vessel 
Imperator Nikolai™ to get the landing party, but had been unable to 
take along a large part of the designated supplies, which had only 
just been received in Aian and had not yet been sorted out, much less 
properly prepared for dispatch to Sakhalin. Although no other ves- 
sels were expected in Aian, Furugelm warned Nevelskoi not to detain 
the Imperator Nikolai, which had orders to continue directly to 
the colonies. 34 

The Imperator Nikolai arrived in the Bay of Good Fortune on 
September 6. The sea was very rough and the captain hesitated to 
send a boat ashore, but impatiently Nevelskoi dispatched a bidarka 
to the ship and Busse had to negotiate the raging waters on the 
fidgety little leather craft. As he set foot on land, he was met by 
Nevelskoi, who led him to his small wooden residence, from which 
his young wife came out to greet them. Having heard a great many 
conflicting appraisals of Nevelskoi, Busse was pleased to make his 
acquaintance, and, as they sat down at a table, he examined him 
with curiosity. Busse did not find Nevelskoi handsome. "The small 
stature, the thin, wrinkled face, covered with little pockmarks, the 
large bald pate surrounded by dishevelled grizzled hair and the small 
grey eyes, which he constantly screws, give him an elderly and 
decrepit appearance. But the wide forehead and the liveliness of the 
eyes show in him energy and fieriness of character." 35 

If Busse lacked more tangible evidence of Nevelskoi's impetuosity, 
it was soon forthcoming. He was reporting about the seventy men 
and one officer, whom he had brought, when Nevelskoi criticized 
him for not having brought also the necessary supplies and, asserting 

33 Tikhmenev gives the name of the vessel as Imperator Nikolai; Nevelskoi gives it as 
Nikolai I; Soviet historians refer to it simply as Nikolai. 

34 Nevelskoi, 218-226; Barsukov, 1, 328-329; Tikhmenev, 11, 103-106; N. V. Busse, 
Ostrov Sakhalin: Ekspeditsiia 1853-54 gg. 3. Tikhmenev asserts that Busse had orders 
from the commandant of Aian to winter on Sakhalin and to be at the complete dis- 
posal of Nevelskoi. Only if the lateness of the season or ill health among the crew 
made this impossible, should the vessel seek permission to continue to the Sandwich 

(Hawaiian) Islands and from there in spring to Novo-Arkhangelsk. Busse himself noted 
as follows: "In virtue of the instructions given to me, I should properly have returned 
to Aian, to go to the river Mago to inspect the new settlements, and from there to 
Yakutsk, where I had been instructed to inspect the Cossack regiment, and then by 
the first winter way to appear in Irkutsk for a personal report to the governor about 
everything that I had seen." 

35 Busse, 4-5. 



that the vessel could not be unloaded at Petrovskoe, refused to let 
him go back. Neither the little steam cutter, which Nevelskoi had, 
nor the Konstantin, which might come later in the year, were ade- 
quate to transporting a well equipped force to Sakhalin. He needed 
the Imperator Nikolai. Arguing that Russia must lose no time in 
occupying Imperatorskaia Gavan' and Tomari in order to forestall 
foreign encroachment in Tatar Strait, Nevelskoi philosophized that 
circumstances and not instructions must guide the deeds of a com- 
mander in a distant region and insisted on resolute action, unre- 
strained by any "Petersburg considerations and orders." To Busse's 
chagrin, Nevelskoi brushed aside the command that he draw addi- 
tional officers for the Sakhalin landing party from the Amur expedi- 
tion, and over his protests impressed him into service as commandant 
of Sakhalin Island. 36 

The diary record, which Busse has left, of the events that followed 
is one of the most intriguing documents of Russian expansion. 
Unlike most accounts, which took pride in noble deeds and courted 
public praise and recognition, it glorified neither imperialism nor 
empire builders and showed refreshing candor in its critique of 
Russian activities in the Far East. To date Busse's military experience 
had been limited largely to service in a guard regiment in St. Peters- 
burg. Busse could not adjust himself to the informality and nervous 
impatience of Nevelskoi, who got so worked up in his plans that "he 
tore the hair on his head" and hated the Russian-American Company 
(under whose auspices Sakhalin was to be occupied) with such pas- 
sion that the mere mention of the word "company" would bring 
forth "a collection of the strongest imprecations and sometimes also 
swearwords." He admitted that Nevelskoi was the right man for 
spreading Russian influence in the Amur region, but thought it 
necessary to put a "prudent, cool, and well-intentioned" person at 
his side to subdue his "too stormy character." 

On the evening of September 8, the Imperator Nikolai weighed 
anchor. Slowed down by lack of wind, she did not reach the bay of 
Aian until the evening of the twelfth, and then was becalmed at the 
very entrance. Nevelskoi sent Busse ashore to ask Commandant 
Kashevarov to come aboard. Busse set out with misgivings, for he 
knew well that Nevelskoi and Kashevarov were enemies, but he 
resolved to act as peace-maker and had hopes of mediating a prompt 
and amicable agreement regarding the immediate freighting of the 

36 Nevelskoi, 227-230. 



Imperator Nikolai. In this he was unsuccessful, however, since 
Kashevarov did not agree either to leave the vessel with the Sakhalin 
expedition or to come aboard to confer with Nevelskoi, and blamed 
Busse for not having landed the contingent at Petrovskoe as planned. 
When Busse reported this to Nevelskoi, they decided to go ashore 
together and demand a conference with Kashevarov and the 
recent commander of Petropavlovsk, Commander Freigang, "a 
tenderhearted and sensitive German" who was passing through Aian 
on his way to the capital. 

At the ensuing meeting Nevelskoi and Kashevarov had a bitter 
exchange, and barely skirting open insult, accused each other of 
rudeness and dereliction of duty. Nevertheless Kashevarov's insistence 
that the Imperator Nikolai go directly to America was finally over- 
whelmed by Nevelskoi with orders, pleadings, and embraces, as 
Freigang, an old friend of both, intervened just when the two seemed 
to have worked themselves up to a point of no return. "It was un- 
pleasant to watch these embraces," Busse noted with distaste. "Their 
fervor was a mask, particularly unbecoming in relation to Kashevarov. 
Embracing such a man as Kashevarov, Nevelskoi made a great and 
generous sacrifice for the good of the cause." Sincere or not, the 
embraces provided a harmless release for the pent-up emotions of 
the disputants and, after a tasty supper and a good night's sleep, the 
whole matter was settled amicably aboard ship. Kashevarov agreed 
to let the Imperator Nikolai go to Sakhalin and thence to Tatary 
Strait for the winter, unless another company vessel arrived to 
replace it. 

On September 15, the heavily laden Imperator Nikolai left Aian. 
Three days later, she reached the roadstead of Petrovskoe, where a 
sudden storm threatened to send her to the bottom of the sea. The 
inexperienced sailors of the landing party proved almost as dangerous 
as the mountainous seas, disorder becoming chaos as Captain Klinkof- 
strem barked orders in Swedish, Nevelskoi and Rudanovskii in 
Russian. Somehow the Imperator Nikolai weathered the storm, but a 
new rift developed among the officers. On the way to shore, Rudanov- 
skii began cursing the sailors and threatened to whip the noncommis- 
sioned officer, ignoring the presence of Busse, his senior in rank and 
future superior. Offended, Busse afterwards took him to task for 
this rudeness, and in his diary stated that Rudanovskii was "difficult 
as a subordinate, and intolerable as a comrade. 37 

37 Busse, 5-18, 



The following clay, on September 19, the naval transports Baikal 
and Irtysh arrived in Petrovskoe. It was deeided that the lmperator 
Nikolai should depart for Aniwa that evening, the Irtysh to follow 
there after unloading the cargo of the Amur expedition. The Irtysh 
was to stay at the place of landing as long as her protection was 
needed, then sail to Imperatorskaia Gavan' for the winter. The Baikal 
meanwhile was to proceed directly to Aian and Kamchatka with 
cargo transferred from the Irtysh. 

The lmperator Nikolai weighed anchor as scheduled. Sailing 
around the northern part of Sakhalin, she continued down the eastern 
shore, rounded Cape Aniwa on the 29th, and headed for Cape Kril'on 
(Notoro) where Orlov, who had been put ashore by the Baikal on the 
east coast in the vicinity of latitude 51 ° N. at the end of August, was 
to be waiting. As the lmperator Nikolai traversed Aniwa Bay, she 
was accompanied by whales and shoals of a variety of fishes. Busse 
realized that it was this abundance of fish that attracted the Japanese 
to this region. 

Throughout the voyage, conversation revolved around the occupa- 
tion of Sakhalin, around the Amur region, and around the activities 
of the Russian-American Company. As to the occupation of Sakhalin, 
Nevelskoi stated at first that, since it was already later in the season 
than planned, he would put ashore in Aniwa, away from the Japa- 
nese settlements, merely a post of ten men, as token of the occupation 
of the island, letting the rest of the landing party spend the winter 
in Imperatorskaia Gavan'; in early spring Busse could return to 
Aniwa and occupy a point which he would judge most suitable. But 
the wonderful weather, which greeted the expedition at Cape Aniwa, 
changed Nevelskoi's plans. It was necessary, he now said, to occupy 
Aniwa without delay, and announced that since the post should be 
as close as possible to the Japanese, the venture could not be entrusted 
to Rudanovskii alone and that Busse must winter on the island too. 
Busse agreed, but remonstrated that a final decision should await 
more definite information about the Japanese. "I regretted after- 
wards," he recalled, "that I had argued about this with Nevelskoi, 
but it vexed me to hear superficial and not very serious considerations 
of the business, the unsuccessful execution of which could have a 
very unfavorable influence on our relations with Japan and China 
as well as on the very possession of Sakhalin and its inhabitants." 38 

38 Ibid., 19-21. 



On the evening of September 30, the Imperator Nikolai approached 
Cape Kril'on and discharged nine shots, a signal prearranged with 
Orlov. There was no reply. The following day, on October 1, the 
vessel began to maneuver toward land. It was already dark when the 
Russians cast anchor. The noise of the anchor chain awakened the 
Japanese, and lights appeared on shore. In the morning, on October 2, 
the Imperator Nikolai, her naval flag proudly displayed, took up 
position vis-a-vis the settlement of Usunnoi. At about 1 1 a.m. Busse 
and Nevelskoi set out for shore with two boats and a bidarka, having 
instructed Klinkofstrem to rush reinforcements to them, if they raised 
a flag, and to draw closer to shore and open up with broadsides against 
the settlement if a shot was fired. To minimize the alarm that their 
appearance was bound to cause, they hid their weapons on the bottom 
of the boats and took along various trifles as gifts. Some seven 
hundred feet from shore the boats ran onto sandbanks. "Savages" 
darted into the water and quickly surrounded them, exclaiming 
"Amerika, Amerika!" Not knowing that "Amerika" was a term 
applied to foreigners in general, 39 the Russians took great pains to 
explain that they were not Americans, but Russians, and Nevelskoi 
sought to convey through gestures that it was in order to protect the 
inhabitants from the Americans, that the Russians had come to 
settle on the island. It seemed to the Russians that the natives had 
understood. Whether they had or not, they gladly accepted the gifts 
that the Russians offered them. 

After some time several Japanese came up also. Markedly different 
in physiognomy from the Ainu, they reminded Busse of the carica- 
tures, which he had seen on posters of Russian tea shops, "only their 
eyes are not slanted upward so much, and they do not wear mus- 
taches." Disparagingly he added: "Their movements and manners 
are ridiculous, similar to those of women." Informed by the Japanese 
of the whereabouts of their superiors, the Russians got off the sand- 
bank and headed for a large settlement, where they were able to ride 
all the way up to shore. A Japanese came out to meet them, and 
gestured that they follow him into the settlement. Seeing neither 
fortifications nor troops, the Russians felt safe and, accompanied by 
a crowd of Ainu, went with the Japanese to a fairly large building of 
Japanese design. Here they met seven Japanese, seated around a 
square fireplace. To these they tried to explain why they had come. 

39 Ivan Makhov, letter from Hakodate, dated January 31 (February 12), 1862 (?), 82; 
Koshizaki Soichi, Hokkaido shashin bunka-shi, 29. 



They could not have been very convincing, for as Busse noted, "it was 
ridiculous to watch how Nevelskoi tried to explain to the Japanese 
that the Russians wanted to live in friendship with them and the 
Ainu, and that they were occupying Sakhalin to defend it from the 
Americans." The Japanese accepted Russian gifts and treated the 
strangers to cooked fish, teaching them how to use chopsticks. But 
though they drank Russian wine with evident pleasure, they remained 
stone cold when Nevelskoi began to embrace and kiss them in 
emphasis of his gestured assertion that the Russians wished to live 
in friendship with the Japanese and that their cannons were intended 
merely to keep Americans away from the island. 

Following the meeting with the Japanese, the Russians set out to 
find a suitable location for their post. Had Nevelskoi, who was in 
charge of operations, proceeded more systematically it is likely that 
the fine Bay of Puruan-Tomari would not have escaped their atten- 
tion. But for a man with great plans for the extension of Russia's 
frontiers, Nevelskoi was surprisingly casual about the selection of an 
advantageous place on the island, and, anxious to leave the open bay 
as soon as possible and reach Petrovskoe before the freeze, limited 
Russian exploration to less than a day. Busse, who would have the 
responsibility of maintaining the position selected by Nevelskoi, 
bitterly resented this, and when Nevelskoi decreed that the men be 
landed at the main Japanese settlement, protested. 

Determinately I told Nevelskoi that we should not establish ourselves 
in the settlement of the Japanese, among their dwellings, because this 
would be a forcible act; that it will be difficult at such close quarters to 
prevent some kind of insignificant, yet in our condition important, clashes 
of our men with the Japanese; that finally this is contrary to the instruc- 
tions of the governor, who ordered us to settle away from the Japanese 
settlements, as well as contrary to the very words of the instructions, 
which he, Nevelskoi, himself, had given me concerning the handling of 
the Japanese and the natives; in these instructions it stated that I was 
to J.eal with the Japanese peacefully, impressing on them that the Russians 
had come to Sakhalin to defend them from the foreigners, and by no 
means to alarm and restrain them. Finally, in these instructions I have 
been ordered not to violate the interests of the Japanese in trade with 
the natives. Having noted all this to Nevelskoi I asked him how to act 
to bring into harmony these peaceful and careful relations and the occu- 
pation of the Japanese settlement, settling, so to speak, in their home, 
and consequently restraining them. 40 

40 Busse, 23-27. 



When Nevelskoi replied that he did not think it possible to disem- 
bark elsewhere, Busse had to comply, but remarked that the spirit 
of the expedition had changed since henceforth cannons and cannon 
balls would be more in view than goods, and warned that this might 
well have an adverse bearing on Russo-Japanese relations, particularly 
on the negotiations of Vice-Admiral Evfimii Putiatin in Nagasaki. 

On October 3, the Russians went ashore on two row boats, flying 
white flags, and on the long boat, on which two tarpaulin-covered 
cannons and muskets had been concealed, flying the naval flag. They 
landed at Tomari or, as Japanese sources put it, at Kushunkotan, 
which Khvostov had raided in 1807. To the Ainu and Japanese, who 
had gathered at the water, Nevelskoi tried to convey the peacefulness 
of Russian intentions, while Busse gave orders to the contingent. 

The sailors lined up in two ranks. I raised the flag, and stood in front of 
them. I commanded: "Uncover!" Nevelskoi ordered to sing a prayer. The 
crew sang the prayer "Our Father," then sang "God save the Tsar"; there 
resounded a Russian hurrah, echoed aboard the vessel, and Sakhalin 
became a Russian possession. 41 

The Japanese and Ainu watched in astonishment. The Russians 
hoisted their flag to a post on the pier, and mounted a guard next 
to it. In back of the flag they put up two tents. Then Nevelskoi fol- 
lowed the Japanese to their commander, while Busse and Rudanov- 
skii explored the neighborhood in search of a suitable place for their 
settlement. It did not take Busse and Rudanovskii long to find out 
that all desirable locations had been occupied by the Japanese. This 
they reported to Nevelskoi. Busse considered the northern cape as the 
only spot suitable for the establishment of a Russian post. Within 
easy access, it was militarily ideal, as batteries placed there would 
command the bay and the Japanese settlements. But the northern 
cape was already occupied by Japanese magazines, which would have 
to be taken over or removed, and this would mean coercion. Nevelskoi 
did not follow Japanese suggestions to withdraw to the neighboring 
settlement, but chose to establish the Russian post on the northern 
cape, though not on the highest spot, which Busse favored. It was 
decided to place the batteries in two rows, taking over the Japanese 
sheds between them. Two of the sheds the Japanese readily sold, but 
three others they could not surrender, because they were filled with 
various necessities. 

41 Ibid., 27-28; Hokkaido-shi, II, 585-586. 



On October 4, the Russians began to unload the supplies and 
furnishings for their post. With the help of native crafts and labor, 
the task was completed on the 7th. Not the full complement of the 
Sakhalin expedition was landed, only fifty-nine sailors and eight 
laborers, to be reinforced by the five cossacks and one sailor, who 
had been put ashore with Orlov. The remainder of the landing party 
was to help man the ship during the arduous autumn sailing and 
winter with it in Imperatorskaia Gavan', where eleven more cossacks 
of the Sakhalin expedition were to join them. 

When Busse went ashore on October 7, he discovered that his 
apprehensions had been justified. Frightened by the Russian invasion, 
the Japanese had deserted the settlement during the night and had 
fled into the interior. Nevelskoi grabbed an Ainu elder by the beard 
and demanded that he bring the Japanese back. With some difficulty 
Busse persuaded Nevelskoi that it would be best to leave the Ainu 
and Japanese alone and that force would only make matters worse. 

After breakfast the men were lined up in two ranks and Nevelskoi 
officially surrendered the command of the Murav'evskii Post to Busse. 
Then he went aboard ship, as the batteries on shore thundered a 
farewell. Busse visited the vessel once more for a festive dinner. When 
he and Rudanovskii returned to the island, the Imperator Nikolai 
fired a salute. Russian cannon shots pierced the silence and Russian 
cheers echoed from the boats and from shore. Toward evening the 
Imperator Nikolai was becalmed and could not weigh anchor; but 
by morning she was gone. 

Busily the landing party set to work. With timber, purchased from 
the Ainu, the Russians started building the stronghold planned by 
Busse: on the top of the cape, two barracks for forty men, an officer's 
wing (brought ready-made from Aian) and a bake-house connected 
by a loopholed wall, with two guns each mounted on towers at two 
corners, and a barrack for twenty men, with a wall and tower of its 
own, near the lower battery. At the same time they continued the 
exploration of the island and were in constant search of fresh supplies. 
Many were their surprises. One Sunday morning, for example, the 
St. Petersburg guard officer visited a little mountain shrine in the 
woods. When he pulled back the curtains behind which he expected 
to see the usual idol, he was shocked to find himself staring at an 
erect gilded phallus, flanked by a phallus of stone and a phallus of 
wood, pointing at the sky. Another time he was startled to have an 



Ainu offer him the use of his beautiful wife and though the lady 
herself, breasts practically uncovered, seemed eager to oblige, he 
nervously feigned that he did not understand the proposition. 

As so often, the Russians had less trouble getting along with the 
Japanese and the Ainu than with themselves. Busse had assigned 
Rudanovskii to work on the lower barracks, to remove physically 
"his quarrelsome and difficult character." But he still found it neces- 
sary to curb his independence several times and to remind him "that 
there cannot be two masters in the home." Meanwhile Samarin, the 
keeper of company property, had taken to the bottle. "With sorrow 
thought I," Busse recalled, "that I would have to spend the whole 
winter with such people — one well-born, but quarrelsome and some- 
what rude, the other a drunkard." Again and again the reluctant 
commander of Sakhalin bemoaned the fate that had cast him from 
the midst of kind relatives in St. Petersburg to an island, where his 
sole companions were people "who only add to the unpleasantness of 
the life." "Samarin with his politeness, laziness, and strangeness of 
ideas, if he does not bore me, cannot, of course, interest or amuse 
me. Rudanovskii, however, constitutes real bane. His continuous 
sharp outbursts and a particularly insulting manner of speaking, 
often lead me to the thought of entirely relieving him from duty. 
I feel that thereby I shall damage the well-being of the expedition 
greatly, as I would take away the only person who is able to make 
maps of shores and interior places of the island, as yet unknown to 
anyone. But, it seems, my patience will not hold out." 

On October 11, the Irtysh appeared at the shores of Sakhalin. 
Unfavorable winds made it difficult for her to reach the Russian 
post, and Busse ordered her to head directly for the place of winterage. 
Just then, however, Orlov arrived with his six men and Busse, con- 
sidering the plain-looking person of about fifty unsuitable company 
for the winter, turned back the vessel with three cannon shots. The 
Irtysh cast anchor late on the 14th. When she left again during the 
night, she carried with her reports to Muravev and Nevelskoi as well 
as personal correspondence. 42 

Orlov had explored only part of the western shore of Sakhalin. 
Warned by the Ainu that the Japanese along the western shore 
planned to capture him and his men, he had traversed the island 
and continued down the east coast. In the mountains he had encoun- 

42 Busse, 28-36, 40-41, 50-51. 



tered groups of Japanese, but they had seemed more afraid of the 
Russians than the Russians of them. Visiting Busse daily, the Ainu 
gave similar warnings of Japanese hostility, but though they brought 
"wooden brooms" 43 as a sign of respect and accepted Russian presents 
without the least inhibition, Busse gained the impression that "in 
general the Ainu love to deceive one, and therefore it is difficult to 
learn anything reliable from them about the country.'' He believed 
that it was fear of the Japanese that made the Ainu hide so much, 
and was more and more convinced that the Ainu chief of the settle- 
ment was sly as well as devoted to the Japanese. 

One Ainu had secretly joined Busse and stayed in his attic. 
Busse wrote: 

I wanted to attach some Ainu to myself in order to find out from him 
about the country and to teach him Russian; but the influence of the 
Japanese over the Ainu is so great, that none of them, it seemed, would 
have dared to show open adherence to the Russians. In secret, almost all 
the Ainu who came to visit me inveighed against the Japanese, saying . . . 
the Japanese is bad, the Japanese beats the Ainu, the Russian is kind 
and good. 

They often repeated these words, hoping that for this they would 
receive gifts from us. My position, I confess, is very embarrassing — if I 
join the Ainu in inveighing against the Japanese, the latter will inevitably 
learn about this from the Ainu who are loyal to them (and there are 
enough of those), and then their trust in us will be completely destroyed. 
On the other hand, I cannot praise the Japanese and take their side before 
the Ainu, without frightening the Ainu thereby into believing that we 
shall mistreat them at one with the Japanese. I usually laughed and did 
not answer when the Ainu who came to me began to inveigh against the 
Japanese. The Ainu who dared to sleep at my place had come to us from 
the settlement Shiretoku, situated some 150 miles from us. He seemed 
to me a tramp and therefore probably also agreed to be almost a servant 
in my house. I once noticed that our Ainu elder inveighed against him, 
probably for working for Russians; I threatened the chief and he 
went away. 

When the Ainu who stayed with him asserted that the village chief 
had persuaded the Japanese to massacre the Russians, Busse laughed 
in order to show him that Russians were not afraid of such con- 
spiracies and threatened that if one of his men were touched, he 
would have all settlements destroyed and all Japanese and "bad" 
Ainu killed. The Ainu joined in the laughter, yet from time to time 

43 Actually pieces of whittled willow wood, with the shavings left attached to the 
top; known as inao, these were sacred offerings to the gods. 



repeated his warnings against the native chief and against the Japa- 
nese who, he asserted, only awaited the arrival of Japanese reinforce- 
ments in spring before launching an attack. 

On October 24, three Japanese returned to the settlement. One of 
them was very talkative and fond of strong drink. Busse treated him 
to tea and rum in the hope of learning a great deal. But though the 
Japanese obligingly wrote the "alphabet," he got the better of the 
bargain in the exchange of information, for Busse told him that in 
the spring four Russian vessels would come to Tomari from Impera- 
torskaia Gavan' and Kamchatka and drew a map of Sakhalin and 
the Amur region, which the Japanese took with him. 

Gradually more Japanese returned to the settlement. On Novem- 
ber 1, an official and a number of followers called on Busse. They 
enjoyed the Russian refreshments and seemed reassured that they 
had nothing to fear from these Russians and chatted with them freely 
and amicably. The talkative Japanese, whom Busse had entertained 
earlier with tea and rum, invited Busse to his own house and having 
imbibed too much sake became embarrassingly familiar. The other 
Japanese and Busse continued to visit each other, however, and 
barter developed, the Japanese being particularly fond of game. 44 

These social visits were a welcome break in the monotony of 
Sakhalin life, but the Russians, the Japanese and the Ainu remained 
on euard against each other's intentions and capabilities. The Ainu 
were often useful channels of information. But their constant pres- 
ence exasperated Busse. 

The visits of the Ainu have brought me absolutely to the end of my 
patience; from early morning till evening, one after another they come to 
me, and what for — in order to sit down on the floor and gape at me and 
the room. Not knowing how to use doors, they leave them open, not 
understanding, that to chill the room is some kind of inconvenience. The 
doors at the partition are made with handles and bolts. Unable to open 
them, they work on them for a long time; finally, whether one wants to 
or not, one must get up to open the door. I ask them humbly to occupy 
themselves with something. At this very time two fools sit on the floor and 
gape. I, of course, pay no attention to them, because there is not enough 
strength, nor patience to talk to everyone. The only way of shunning 
them is to go out of the house and to ramble about the yard without 
aim. One needs a house of several rooms, one of which is set aside specifi- 
cally for these intolerable guests, with chimneys to draw out the inferior 

4 * Busse, 39, 40-50. 



tobacco. . . . Will God help me soon to leave the fatherland of the most 
unbearable Ainu? 1 • 

The Japanese did not confine their questions to Russian activities 
on Sakhalin. They examined Russian maps and sketched the loca- 
tions oi : Japan, China, and Russia. Never certain how honest the 
Japanese were in their replies, Busse could not help departing from 
the truth himself. As he admitted in his diary, "1 exaggerated a little 
our possessions contiguous with China, having annexed to us the 
Amur River and the coast of Tatar Strait till latitude 47 ° N." The 
Japanese also inquired whether the Russians planned to go to Naga- 
saki. One day they thumbed through Golovnin's narrative, a copy 
of which Busse had with him, and were startled to find that the 
Russians had sketches of Japanese harbors. 

Occasionally the apparent harmony in Russo-Japanese relations 
was interrupted. Rumors had reached Busse that the Japanese toured 
the Ainu settlements and forbade the natives to work for the Rus- 
sians or to sell them anything. His own observations tended to support 
this. When the Ainu, who lived with the Russians, complained that 
he had been beaten by the Japanese for serving the Russians, Busse 
angrily scolded two of the Japanese elders. The latter denied every- 
thing, but Busse felt it necessary to show his displeasure and, if 
necessary, to threaten the Japanese, for fear they might show "exces- 
sive boldness or insolence." 

The Ainu continued to warn Busse that in spring well-armed 
Japanese would descend on the island at different points, surround 
the Russians, and kill them. There were stories also that the Japanese 
on Sakhalin were planning to invite the Russians to a great banquet, 
get them drunk, and then dispatch them with the aid of the Ainu. 
Busse was not distressed. Proudly he wrote: 

All these stories originate, of course, in conversations of the Japanese with 
the Ainu, and although the Japanese would be capable of such hostile 
actions, they are too cowardly to carry out their threats. As regards the 
coming of vessels in spring, the number of Japanese and their actions 
against us, nothing can be said — all this will depend on their emperor. 
If he will deem Sakhalin necessary for himself, he will either decide to 
change the law forbidding relations with foreigners ... or else he will 
decide to chase us from Sakhalin, and then, of course, in accordance with 
Japanese bravery, he will send no less than a thousand Japanese against 
sixty Russians. I think that neither one nor the other will be, and that 
the Japanese will simply leave Sakhalin. 

45 ibid., 109. 



Busse confronted the Japanese with stories of their intentions to 
kill the Russians and threatened that, in the event of hostilities on 
their part, Russian vessels would not permit a single Japanese to 
leave the island. Of course, the Japanese denied any animosity, and 
sought to allay Russian suspicions. They declared that not only were 
the Ainu allegations untrue, but that the Ainu had told them the 
same thing about Russian intentions toward them. When the Cossack 
Diachkov, who spoke Ainu quite well, repeated to the Japanese that 
Russia had no territorial designs on Sakhalin, but merely wished to 
keep it out of foreign hands, that Russian vessels and troops would 
come in force, but would not remain over the winter, that the 
Russian Emperor had written about all this to the sovereign of Japan, 
and that Busse's ill disposition was due to Japanese attempts to 
hinder Russian dealings with the Ainu, the Japanese declared them- 
selves willing to exchange necessities with the Russians until the 
arrival of their superior in the spring, who would determine further 
relations. They expressed the hope that the reply of their ruler would 
be amicable, for the Russians, they said, had demonstrated their 
goodness by the kind treatment of Japanese castaways, shipwrecked 
off Kamchatka. Later the Japanese entertained the Russians at a feast 
and telling them that they were going to another part of the island 
to call together Ainu for spring work, asked Busse that the Russians 
keep an eye on the Japanese magazines, during their absence, to 
prevent the Ainu from pilfering the stores. 

Busse realized that, should the Japanese decide to attack, the 
Russian position would be precarious. With his sixty men, of whom 
up to twenty were constantly sick, he could not possibly patrol the 
extended coastline nor prevent a Japanese landing. The entire con- 
tingent was inadequate for the defense of the Russian stronghold. 
There was not enough timber to connect the little fort and the lower 
battery with walls, and if there had been, there would not have 
been enough men to defend them effectively. The protection of both 
the upper and lower fortifications required a fatal division in per- 
sonnel. On the other hand, the lower battery was too exposed from 
the top to concentrate all efforts there, while withdrawal into the 
little fort above would mean to be left without water. But perhaps 
the greatest problem in the event of a Japanese attack would have 
been the fact that the Russian troops had no notion of soldiering. 
Busse recorded that only about eight of his men had had any military 
training. The others were merely worker-peasants. When he had 



ordered gun drill during their sea voyage to the island, "a huge num- 
ber of the men did not know how to hold the gun and with fear 
drew back the cock." Busse planned to provide the necessary training, 
limiting himself to "the lightest demands and rules," but he could 
not do so until spring, and that was when the Japanese were expected. 
Busse understood that the Russian invasion of Sakhalin meant 
different things to the Japanese and to the Ainu. 

The Japanese saw in it the destruction of their mastery on the island and 
perhaps the loss of rich industries. Our assertions that we have come to 
protect them from the Americans, they do not believe, of course. They 
did not have the forces to hinder our landing; all that they could do, 
was to inform their government, for which purpose they sent a junk with 
thirteen Japanese sailors to Matsumae. But the Ainu were glad of our 
coming, since they hoped that we would chase away the Japanese or kill 
them, and thereby free them from the yoke which they hated. . . . The 
Ainu, uncertain about their future fate, are waiting to see who will prevail 
in spring — the Russians or the Japanese. They wish success to the Rus- 
sians because they hope that they are after all better than the Japanese 
and will not beat them. There are of course also those who wish success 
to the Japanese — these are those Ainu who live in their house as servants 
and mistresses of the Japanese. But one must not even expect help or 
attack from the Ainu; their role is strictly passive. Of course, if the 
Russians were to begin to fight with the Japanese and were to overpower 
them, the Ainu would be glad to come in time to take vengeance, to 
throw themselves on the defeated Japanese, and to kill them. Meanwhile 
they fear both us and the Japanese. . . . 

With Japanese, Ainu, and Russian interests in conflict, the task of 
alienating- neither the Japanese nor the Ainu and establish trade 
relations with both was not an easy one. The fact that goods brought 
by the Russians w 7 ere so ill-suited to native needs that by Busse's 
admission "if there were no Japanese on the island, we could not 
satisfy the demands of the inhabitants" only complicated matters. 
If the Russians wished to prove to the Japanese that their presence 
would not aversely affect Japanese fishery, they would have to recog- 
nize Sakhalin as Japanese territory, and the Japanese as complete 
masters over the inhabitants. Yet leaving the Ainu in Japanese 
bondage, would arouse the hatred of the Ainu. On the other hand, 
if the Russians proclaimed the island their own and prohibited the 
Japanese to use force toward the Ainu, they would ruin Japanese 
fishery, because the Ainu would not voluntarily work for the Japa- 
nese and because the Japanese, according to the laws of their country, 



could not visit foreign territory. Busse chose a middle path, warning 
the Japanese not to mistreat the Ainu publicly, yet refraining from 
interfering in their private relations, unless Ainu, who worked for 
the Russians, were involved. This was a half-way measure that pleased 
no one. "Our so-called armed neutrality," Busse observed, "has pro- 
duced a good effect on the Japanese only in the respect that they have 
stopped thinking that we have come with the intention of chasing 
them off the island and to seize it. Yet they see in the future their 
inevitable expulsion, notwithstanding our exhortations and assur- 
ances." To take the side of the Ainu meant to alienate the Japanese; 
to take the side of the Japanese meant to alienate the Ainu; to impose 
a rule of one's own over Ainu and Japanese, meant to alienate them 
both. Clearly the road to empire provided little opportunity for 
making friends. 

At the heart of the problem was a basic contradiction in Russian 
policy. On one hand the Russians wished to remain on the best of 
terms with the Japanese, with whom they were trying to conclude 
a commercial treaty, and anxious to get accustomed to living side 
by side with the Japanese, urged them to remain in Tomari; on the 
other hand they established themselves at a place, where they were 
bound to disrupt Japanese enterprise and to arouse Japanese hostility. 
All this could have been avoided, had the Russians chosen a point 
to the north of the Japanese settlements, especially as domination of 
the island depended primarily on naval supremacy. The occupation 
of Aniwa Bay had broader implications — or so at least it would appear 
to the Japanese, for Busse recognized, "the idea that in order to 
command Sakhalin, one must be in control of Aniwa — this idea can 
apply only in case of a military plan of action against Japan." 

What had been the major objectives of the Russian government 
in dispatching the Sakhalin expedition? The commander himself 
was not sure. "The purpose of the occupation of Sakhalin was not 
expressed in the orders of the government; it was announced only, 
that the right of governing the island is given to the Russian-Ameri- 
can Company." Analyzing the various possible objectives in the light 
of what Golovnin had written about Japan and what he himself had 
learned about conditions on Sakhalin, he reflected: "At the present 
time . . . Admiral Putiatin has been sent to Japan to negotiate with 
its government, while the Americans want to open the ports by force. 
It is clear that the thought of occupying Sakhalin is related to these 
circumstances, because its occupation is useful in establishing trade 


with the Japanese and is essential to anticipate the establishment of 
foreigners at this point, which is situated on the border of the 
possessions of the Japanese and of ourselves. Furthermore, this island 
because of its location serves as a supplement to the Amur region, 
the annexation of which is so necessary for Russia. 1 " 

Mounting Russian preoccupation with the ambitions of rival 
Western powers in the Far East — an element, which was to transform 
the simple relationship between Russia and Japan into a triangular 
relationship between Russia, Japan, and the United States and into a 
fragment of Far Eastern power politics — was expressed by Mnravev 
in a memorandum to Alexander II in March of 1853. 

Twenty-five years ago the Russian-American Company requested from 
the government the occupation of California, which at that time was 
still hardly controlled by anyone, expressing on this occasion its appre- 
hension that soon this region would become an acquisition of the United 
States of America. In Petersburg this apprehension was not shared and 
it was asserted that this could happen only in one hundred years. The 
Company maintained, that this would happen in twenty-five years, and 
now it has been already over a year, that California constitutes one of 
the North American States. One could not but foresee the rapid spread 
of the sway of the North American States in North America, nor could 
one but foresee, that these States, once they had established themselves 
on the Pacific Ocean, would soon take precedence over all other naval 
powers there, and would require the whole northwestern shore of America. 
The sovereignty of the North American States in all of North America is 
so natural, that we should not regret very much that we did not consoli- 
date our position in California twenty-five years ago — sooner or later we 
would have had to yield it; but yielding it peacefully, we could have 
received from the Americans other benefits in exchange. Besides now, with 
the invention and development of railroads, one must become convinced, 
even more than before, that the North American States will without fail 
spread over all of North America, and we cannot but bear in mind that 
sooner or later we shall have to yield to them our North American 
possessions. However, neither could one but bear in mind something else 
in connection with this consideration, namely, that it is highly natural 
also for Russia, if not to possess all of Eastern Asia, so to rule over the 
whole Asian littoral of the Pacific Ocean. Due to various circumstances 
we allowed the intrusion of this part of Asia by the English, who very 
naturally to the detriment and reproach of all of Europe, disturbing the 
peace and well-being of other nations, prescribe from their little island 
their own laws in all parts of the world, excluding America, laws not in 
the least aimed at the benefit of mankind, but only at the satisfaction 

^Ibid., 40-52, 60-66, 74-79, 88-98. 



of the commercial interests of Great Britain — but the matter can still 
be mended by a close tie on our part with the North American States. 
England exerts all efforts not to permit this bond; her agents try every- 
where and with all means to estrange America from Russia. In this respect 
England's most essential conditions must include: to gain possession of 
Kamchatka or to leave it waste and to rule over the Pacific shores of 
China and Japan and thus, so to speak, to cut Russia off from the Pacific 
Ocean. There is no doubt that this system must include also the acquisi- 
tion of Sakhalin and the Amur estuary. In order to prepare, in view of 
the above-mentioned considerations, a firm and convenient domain for 
our American Company in place of the North American shore on one 
hand, and on the other hand in order to develop quicker and truer our 
sway over the shore of the Pacific Ocean belonging to us, it is essential 
to permit the Russian-American Company right now to establish itself 
on Sakhalin, whence her trade will inevitably develop with Japan and 
Korea. . . . 47 

Sakhalin was not yet considered important in its own right. Its occu- 
pation was conceived as staking a claim to the island to forestall its 
use against Russia and as a step toward the opening of Japan. The 
peaceful character that was given the occupation, when it was carried 
out under the flag of the Russian-American Company, was not merely 
a subterfuge. "The number of people allotted to the expedition," 
Busse noted, "shows that the possibility of military action and the 
necessity of defending the island against the Japanese or any other 
country had not been planned. These one hundred men were in- 
tended, of course, for the defense of our commercial settlement 
against the native savages or the Japanese fishermen, and this number 
is more than enough for the attainment of this purpose." On the 
other hand, the significance of the Russian landing party greatly 
exceeded its size or strategic strength. As Busse remarked, "regardless 
of what we occupy, no force of sixty men will defend the inhabitants 
of the island against other nations, but the flag, which is under the 
protection of our government." Busse noted that the occupation of 
Tomari on Sakhalin was quite different in significance from the 
Russian expansion into the Amur region. In the Amur region Russian 
competition was a detriment to a mere handful of Manchu traders; 
the population in general profited from Russian commerce. The 
losses of a few minor traders could not be expected to arouse the 
tottering Manchu government to action. On Sakhalin, however, the 
Russians had deprived Japan of one of her major sources of nourish- 

47 Muravev to Alexander II, March 1853. (Barsukov, 1, 322-323.) 



ment tor her entire population, "and therefore the loss of the shores 
of Aniwa is more important lor Japan, than the loss of the whole 
Amur region adjoining the Amur is lor China." Furthermore, the 
military occupation of Sakhalin posed a direct threat to the Japanese 
on Etorofu and Kunashiri, and it was obvious to Busse that, however 
amicable personal relations with the Japanese might remain, their 
government was bound to react with serious measures. 

In the light of the importance of the Russian occupation of 
Sakhalin to Japan and of Busse's realization that his force would 
not be able to cope with the Japanese, if the latter received substantial 
reinforcements in the spring, it is of interest to note that the Russians 
made no attempt to prevent communication with Matsumae. Shortly 
after the Russian landing, the Japanese had secretly informed their 
government about it, but toward the end of March they first inquired 
whether Busse would object, before sending out a large boat with 
papers and letters. Busse approved, for it was not his purpose to 
isolate Sakhalin from Japan, yet when the Japanese departed on 
April |, he recorded in his diary concern at the growing weakness 
of the Russian position. 

Scurvy has increased again. There are nineteen ill with scurvy, who do 
not go out to work; there are three who are considered healthy, but who 
are also subject to scurvy. The total number sick, including other illnesses, 
is 37 men; of these nine men are severely ill, unable to rise from bed. 
Twenty men go out to work. 

The second tower is not yet completed, the straw roofs have not yet 
been taken down, boards have not been sawn. If the Japanese want to 
find us unprepared, this will not be difficult for them to do. 

Two weeks later, on April ig, the Japanese informed Busse that 
five of their vessels had arrived at Shiranushi. The following day a 
Japanese official, senior to Maruyama, arrived in Tomari. He called 
the Ainu together and exhorted them to work for the Japanese as 
before, declaring that the arrival of the Russians did not concern 
them. The Japanese, he said, did not know why the Russians had 
come; they had nothing in common with either the Japanese or the 
Ainu. Such talk was disquieting and though this official called on 
Busse, the latter had to conclude that Japanese intentions were "not 
completely friendly." The arrival of Japanese boats and news that 
large quantities of officers and troops were being massed on Matsumae 
Island, called for continuous vigilance on the part of the Russians. 
Two squads were ordered to sleep in the fortress, while the guard 



was strengthened, Busse and Rudanovskii taking turn at night duty 
in the fortress. The Cossack Berezkin and the sailor Alekseev were 
sent to Cape Shiranushi to keep a lookout for Japanese and Russian 

En route to Shiranushi, Berezkin and Alekseev came upon Maru- 
yama, who told them to return to Tomari. When they refused to 
withdraw, he took them to the officials, who had newly arrived. 
These asked Berezkin and Alekseev to ride with them on their boats 
to Tomari so that the Russians would not open fire with their "angry" 
suns, and sent an Ainu to inform the Russians that Berezkin and 
Alekseev were with them. The Japanese were quite concerned about 
the Russian cannons, for not only were they mounted in such a way 
as to point at one from whatever direction approached, but it was said 
that they were so angry that whenever the Russians fired them, 
they made a backward somersault — a notion not entirely without 
foundation, since, during the winter, the Russians had loaded one 
of their cannons with too strong a charge of gunpowder and the 
piece had actually overturned. 

Busse studied the four Japanese boats through his telescope, as 
they approached Tomari. In his estimation they could not hold more 
than two hundred and fifty men. Confident that "it could not even 
occur to the Japanese with such a number to attack sixty Russian 
sailors with eight cannons," he concluded that their intentions were 
not hostile, and ordered the choir to assemble on the lower tower 
and receive the Japanese with a gay song. The Japanese were truly 
puzzled as the strains of the Russian tune drifted across the bay. 
Staring at the tower, they could see an armed guard, surrounded by 
a number of Red Devils shouting at the top of their lungs. But, when 
Berezkin explained that his countrymen were singing to show how 
happy they were at their arrival, the Japanese were delighted and 
immediately began to sing, clapping their hands in rhythm. Busse 
thought of Golovnin's narrative. How much guidance one could find 
in its pages for the successful establishment of friendly relations with 
the Japanese! 

The Japanese officials, headed by Miwa, called on Busse. The usual 
pleasantries passed between them. Busse realized that it was neither 
his diplomatic skill nor the desire of the Japanese to continue their 
industries undisturbed that had averted a military clash. The Russian 
post may have been sufficiently organized by now to withstand an 



attack by the Japanese already on the island, but the Japanese govern- 
ment could easily send whatever reinforcements would be necessary 
to wipe out the Russian stronghold. Busse comprehended that the 
course of events on Sakhalin was being determined elsewhere. The 
Japanese mentioned the negotiations of Vice-Admiral Putiatin. Busse 
wrote: "The influence of Putiatin is clear — but it is difficult to guess 
how he came to terms with the Japanese concerning the occupation 
of Sakhalin by the Russians; at any rate we owe it to Putiatin that 
it did not come to the use of cannons at our place. Should this have 
happened, I cannot say, that the chances of success would have been 
on our side/' Aware that the occupation of Tomari must have affected 
Putiatin's negotiations with the Japanese, Busse wondered what 
orders Putiatin would give to the Sakhalin expedition. "I think all 
the time that there is nothing good here, and that we shall have to 
leave Aniwa." 

Meanwhile more and more Japanese officials began to arrive. They 
made no show of hostility, but their increasing number was in itself 
a threat to both the Russians and the Ainu. To reassure them, one 
of the Japanese made this speech to the Ainu: 

The past autumn a Russian vessel came to this land, put ashore officers, 
soldiers and cannons. The Russians began to build houses. The Japanese 
scattered from fear, half of them going away to Matsumae to report about 
what had happened and to bemoan the Japanese who had remained, who 
had scattered to the different Japanese settlements on Sakhalin; at this 
time the Ainu bore themselves badly, pilfered barley from the granaries 
and got drunk. But this is still excusable; what is bad, is that in winter 
too the Ainu conducted themselves badly. The Japanese, who had run 
away, luckily met the Russians, who were coming from the land of the 
Gilyaks. These Russians calmed them, having told them, that the Russians 
wanted to live with them in friendship, and asked that they return to 
Tomari. The Japanese returned, were kindly received by the Russian 
commander and his soldiers. They began to live amicably, but here the 
Ainu began to try to set them at variance. To the Russians you came to 
say, that the Japanese wanted to knife the Russians to death, when they 
w r ould be asleep. To the Japanese you said, that the Russians wanted to 
kill the Japanese. In spite of this the Russians have lived with the Japanese 
in peace and friendship. Whether the Russians will remain here to live 
or will go away, I cannot tell you, because I do not know. From their 
great commander, who has been in Nagasaki, a paper will come, and 
then it will be known about this. Meanwhile you work, as you worked 
before, for which as before you will receive payment. In past years few 
soldiers came to this place, this year many have come, — but do not think 



that this is for fighting with the Russians, this is only for the protection 
of our officers. 

In more informal statements the Japanese repeated that the many 
officers were the retinue of senior officials, and that Putiatin had 
expressed the intention of sending two vessels to Sakhalin. Unpleas- 
antly surprised as Busse was at the high proportion of officials, who 
were arriving on the island, he tended to believe "that the Japanese 
officers have really arrived as a formal retinue for the senior com- 
mander, who has been charged to negotiate with those sent by 
Putiatin, and perhaps with him in person." 48 As it happened, Putiatin 
did not visit Sakhalin, but he had intended at one time to continue 
his negotiations on Sakhalin, and had instructed the Japanese to send 
officials there. 49 Busse was right when he suspected that the future 
of the Sakhalin expedition would be molded by Putiatin rather than 
by Nevelskoi or Muravev. 

On May 11, 1854 two Russian vessels arrived at Tomari: the 
corvet Olivutsa, under the command of Captain Nikolai Nazimov, 
and a whale-boat with Orlov on board. During the winter Busse 
had sent some reports across the ice to Petrovskoe and had re- 
ceived in the same manner a brief message from Nevelskoi. Now 
he received a whole batch of official papers and personal letters. 
Muravev and Nevelskoi did not disclose their future plans. Muravev 
merely confirmed Busse in his position as commandant of Sakhalin, 
until such time as a company replacement arrived, and patted him 
on the back for doing a fine job. Nevelskoi expressed the hope that 
Busse would avoid any brush with the Japanese. But there was an 
item of news that foreshadowed the termination of the expedition. 
Russia and Turkey had broken off diplomatic relations and a Rus- 
sian break with England and France was likely. This, Busse realized, 
complicated his position, "should the Japanese learn about our 
break with strong naval powers, with whom it will be difficult for 
us to fight in the Pacific Ocean." To make matters worse, a deadly 
outbreak of scurvy could be expected to detain the Irtysh and Impera- 
tor Nikolai in Imperatorskaia Gavan' until June, while the Olivutsa 
had orders to hasten to Petropavlovsk for the defense of Kamchatka. 50 

Muravev was pleased with Russian activities on Sakhalin, delighted 
that both Japanese and Ainu, as he put it in a letter of March 1854, 

48 Busse, 79-84, 110-124, 127, 133. 

49 See Lensen, Russia's Japan Expedition, 66. 
so Busse, 141. 



"plan to sleep peacefully under the protection of our battery and 
crew."' 1 But by summer the curtain had fallen on this dramatic in- 
terlude in Russo-Japanese relations. The details of the Rtisssian with- 
drawal are not clear. Husse's diary peters out with these brief entries: 

May 15 [27J. The Baikal came. 

May 17 [29]. Forty-six Japanese arrived. 

May 18 [30J. Dinner in the forest with the Japanese. 

May 19 [31]. The Baikal weighed anchor. 

If Busse ever intended to fill in these entries, he did not do so. 
Nevelskoi, who had engineered the whole venture, notes merely 
that he dispatched the Irtysh and Kniaz Menshikov to Aniwa Bay, 
where they joined the Baikal, which had also proceeded there on his 
orders, and that "the commandant of Murav'evskii Post, N. V. Busse, 
on the suggestion of Admiral E. V. Putiatin . . . removed the Murav'- 
evskii Post, and K. N. Poset, having distributed the detachment and 
the property of the post on the vessels mentioned, departed from 
Aniwa to Imperatorskaia Gavan'." According to Japanese sources 
the Russian departure took place on June 13, 1854. 

The reasons for the sudden Russian withdrawal seem to have 
been: the outbreak of the Crimean War and the course of Putiatin's 
negotiations in Japan. Putiatin's objections antedated the commence- 
ment of hostilities. When Nevelskoi returned to Petrovskoe in the 
winter of 1853, he learned that one of Putiatin's officers (Voin 
Rimskii-Korsakov, captain of the Vostok), had left word, during his 
absence, that Putiatin opposed annexation of any territory along the 
Amur, which he considered Chinese, and protested especially the 
occupation of Sakhalin, as this would hinder his negotiations with 
the Japanese. The outbreak of the Crimean War enabled Putiatin 
to order the immediate evacuation of the island on the grounds that 
the Russian post could be neither supplied nor defended and that 
every man was needed to protect the shores of Siberia itself from 
attack by the British and French. A letter in Dutch, left by the 
Russians on their departure from Sakhalin, referred to their role 
in the defense of their homeland. But, though Japanese sources 
admit that the Russian withdrawal was forced by the outbreak of 

si Letter of Muravev to Grand Duke Konstantin Nikolaevich, dated March 2 (14), 
1854. (Barsukov, 1, 349-350.) 
52 Busse, 145. 



the Crimean War rather than by the arrival of Japanese troops, the 
mounting number of reinforcements from Matsumae no doubt made 
the Russian evacuation seem entirely logical. 53 

Whatever the reasons for the Russian withdrawal, it is significant 
that it was effected without bloodshed. This permitted Putiatin to 
turn it to advantage and exploit it as a demonstration of Russian 
good will and peaceful intentions toward Japan. The treaty, which 
he succeeded in concluding with the Japanese in 1855, left Sakhalin 
for the time being in joint possession of Russia and Japan. But the 
explorations of Rudanovskii, Busse, and other members of the 
Sakhalin expedition had prepared the way for the eventual acqui- 
sition of the island by Russia. 

53Nevelskoi, 292; Barsukov, i, 330-331; Hokkaido-shi, 11, 589-590. 




1852- 1855 

""Vr *7/"* ICE ~ Admiral Evfimii Putiatin's interference in the an- 
ik\f+ 1/ nexation of Sakhalin and his opposition to Russian expan- 
*^^t / sion in the Amur region angered Muravev. 1 "Putiatin is 
\V really not a bad man, but it is a pity that he has meddled in 
the Amur affairs, which he may damage," Muravev wrote in a letter. 
"Now we prepare for the [Easter] sacrament and keep the fast, there- 
fore any unrelated arguments will be inappropriate, but when one 
will kiss each other on Easter day in commemoration of Christ's 
resurrection I shall be many-worded." 2 Vet, ironically, it had been 
Muravev himself who had put Putiatin into the position, which had 
prompted him to interfere, when he had prevailed upon the Emperor 
to dispatch the long-planned expedition to Japan. 3 In 1843, Nicholas 
I had almost sent Putiatin to Japan, but opposition from the chan- 
cellor and especially from the minister of finance had persuaded 
him to substitute a "private" expedition on a small scale. This and 
another private attempt to establish relations with the Japanese 
were futile — nowhere is the maxim "penny wise, pound foolish" 
more applicable than in international relations. 

By mid-century important changes were afoot in the Far East. 
Like Japan, China had found it necessary to restrict intercourse 
with Westerners, though not as completely. Closing the interior to 
all Westerners, except the Russians, the Chinese had continued to 
admit European merchants to the port city of Canton during the 
trading season. This they did out of the goodness of their heart, 
believing that the Westerners would perish without the invaluable 
products of the Middle Kingdom. An attitude of blatant superiority 

1 As noted already, Putiatin was anxious not to alienate either the Japanese or the 
Chinese. His relations with the Japanese will be discussed below. It must be kept in 
mind that he was delegated to negotiate with the Chinese as well and was ever con- 
scious, therefore, of anv Russian policies that might complicate the already difficult 
task of seeking closer relations with China and Japan. 

2 Letter to Mikhail Korsakov, dated April 2 (14), 1857, in Barsukov, 1, 493. 

3 As early as 1843 tne expedition to Japan was envisaged as part of Russian activities 
in the Amur region and China. (Baron F. P. Osten-Saken, "Vospominanie o Grafe E. 
V. Putiatine," 386.) 



on the part of the Chinese may have been justified in the eighteenth 
century. By the middle of the nineteenth century the industrial revo- 
lution had propelled the West ahead of China in military power, 
and Europeans, especially the English, would no longer tolerate the 
iniquities of the Canton trade, the humiliating restrictions of which 
sprang from the Chinese view that the trade was a privilege gra- 
ciously granted by China to the foreign "barbarians." It was the 
conflict of this belief, nurtured by centuries of Chinese superiority 
in the Far East and the consequent inability of the Chinese and 
their Manchu rulers to envisage the political equality of nations, 
with the nineteenth century dogma of the West that trade was a 
natural right, rather than the issue of opium that really precipitated 
the so-called Opium War of 1839-1842 between Great Britain and 
China. By the treaty of Nanking (1842) Great Britain obtained the 
island of Hong Kong and commercial concessions, including the 
opening of additional ports to trade and the establishment of a 
"fair and regular" tariff on imports and exports (a restriction which 
was to plague China until 1930). In 1843, when the Putiatin ex- 
pedition was first discussed, England had begun to encroach on the 
privileged position, which Russia had enjoyed in China on the 
basis of the treaties of Nerchinsk (1689) and Kiakhta (1727), which 
provided for overland trade between the two empires and authorized 
the establishment of a Russian Orthodox mission in Peking. By mid- 
century, this rift in Chinese seclusion had been widened by the con- 
clusion of the Sino-American Treaty of Wanghia (1844) with its 
amplification of extraterritoriality and its most-favored-nation clause, 
by the Sino-French Treaty of Whampoa (1844) and treaties with 
Sweden and Norway (1847) an< ^ by otner concessions to the West- 
erners proclaimed by imperial decrees. 

Events in China bore a direct relationship to Japanese security. 
King William II of the Netherlands vainly tried, in 1844, to arouse 
the Japanese from their dream of peaceful isolation, by expounding 
to them on the lesson of China in an unprecedented letter to the 
Shogun, "our Friend, the very noble, most serene, and allpowerful 
sovereign of the great Empire of Japan, who has his seat in the 
Imperial Palace of Yedo, the abode of peace." Though the Shogunate 
rejected King William's advice to ameliorate the laws against for- 
eigners "lest happy Japan be destroyed by war," his dramatic por- 
trayal of "the superior power of European military tactics" remained 



a warning of the mounting danger to the independence ot Japan.' 
It was the appearanee of the United States on the Far Eastern 
scene that most affected Russian interests. To some Russian states- 
men the United States appeared as a potential ally against Great 
Britain; Muravev expressed this view in the memorandum quoted 
above. To others the United States presented a potential challenge, 
greater even than that of England. 

As early as 1791, Americans had approached Japan in a futile 
attempt to sell sea-otter peltries. The development of the Pacific 
Northwest fur trade, and the spread of steam navigation brought 
to the shores of Japan an ever growing number of Americans, cloaked 
in the mantle of trade, evangelization, and Manifest Destiny. In 
1837, the Americans had attempted to repatriate Japanese castaways, 
taking advantage of the opportunity to try to open Japan to trade 
and missionary work. The Japanese had responded to this amicable 
mission with cannon fire, after her officials had visited the Morrison 
and had assured themselves that she was unarmed. Undaunted, the 
Americans had renewed their efforts in 184G. But Commodore James 
Biddle, though he arrived with two men-of-war, was literally pushed 
aside by a common Japanese soldier. When the commodore did not 
hack him to pieces forthwith, but accepted the assurances of Jap- 
anese officials that the man would be punished in accordance with 
Japanese law, Americans became the laughing stock of Japan. Yet 
the martial spirit of Manifest Destiny was by now rampant in the 
United States. Going to war with Mexico (1846-1848), the young 
nation wrested from her New Mexico and California in addition to 
the recently acquired Texas. When a new and powerful expedition 
to Japan was outfitted in 1852, it was clear to everyone that no 
further insults would be brooked by the Americans, least of all by 
Commodore Matthew Calbraith Perry. 

The advance of Americans into the Pacific antedates the estab- 
lishment of the United States as a country. The Revolutionary War 
and the displacement of the British East India Company monopoly 
opened the flood gates of American interest in the Far East. The 
westward expansion of the United States (in many ways similar 
to the eastward drive of Russia) was intimately connected with its 
desire for Asian markets. The potentials of the young nation were 
dazzling. "We should not be surprised that the English colonists 

4 D. C. Greene, "Correspondence between William II of Holland and the Shogun of 
Japan," 110-113. 



of America, republican and independent, are putting into practice 
the design of discovering a safe port in the South Sea and trying 
to hold it by travelling across the immense territory of this conti- 
nent above our possessions in Texas, New Mexico and California," 
the Viceroy of Peru wrote to the Spanish minister of foreign affairs 
toward the end of the eighteenth century: "Much more wandering 
about may be expected from an active nation, which bases all its 
hopes on navigation and trade; and in truth it could hold the riches 
of Great China and of India, if it succeeds in establishing a colony 
on the western coasts of America." Americans themselves had mag- 
nificent visions. They saw in the United States, as it pushed westward, 
a source of "science, liberal principles in government, and the true 
religion" for the peoples of the Far East, and thought of the Columbia 
Valley as "the granary of China and Japan, and an outlet to their 
imprisoned and exuberant population." A Senate committee re- 
port in 1846 viewed the occupation of Oregon as a commercial link 
with Asia, Polynesia, and South America and predicted that "all 
this mighty laboratory whence the world has supplied itself for fifty 
centuries with articles of luxury, comfort and common use, will pour 
itself forth in exchange for the produce of the Mississippi Valley." 5 

In our own day Winston Churchill has referred to China as "the 
great American illusion." A century ago the illusion was not so ap- 
parent, and in 1851, on the eve of Commodore Perry's expedition 
an English historian predicted the conquest of China and Japan 
by the United States. 

Opposite to San Francisco, on the coast of that ocean, lie the wealthy 
but decrepit empires of China and Japan. Numerous groups of islets stud 
the larger part of the intervening sea, and form convenient stepping- 
stones for the progress of commerce or ambition. The intercourse of 
traffic between these ancient Asiatic monarchies and the young Anglo- 
American republic must be rapid and extensive. Any attempt of the 
Chinese or Japanese rulers to check it will only accelerate an armed 
collision. The American will either buy or force his way. Between such 
populations as that of China and Japan on the one side, and that of the 
United States on the other — the former haughty, formal, and insolent; 
the latter bold, intrusive, and unscrupulous — causes of quarrel must 
sooner or later arise. The results of such a quarrel cannot be doubted. 
America will scarcely imitate the forbearance shown by England at the 
end of our late war with the Celestial Empire; and the conquests of 

5 Foster Rhea Dulles, America in the Pacific, 14, 31, 39. 



China and Japan, by the fleets and armies of the United States, are 
events which many now living are likely to witness. 8 

It was the expectancy of American expansion, topped by news of 
the imminence of an American expedition to Japan, and British 
gun boat diplomacy in China that made valid Muravev's warning, 
early in 1852, that if Russia wished to retain a strong position in the 
Far East she must establish good relations with Japan and could not 
let the Americans and the British gain there the extent of influence 
they had achieved in China, and persuaded Nicholas I to cast aside 
financial considerations and to get underway the long-proposed 
Russian- Japanese expedition of Vice-Admiral Putiatin without fur- 
ther delay. 7 

On October 19, 1852 the frigate Pallada, flagship of the expedition, 
departed from Kronstadt and headed for Portsmouth, England, where 
Putiatin had hurried ahead to purchase an iron screw-schooner. 
On January 18, 1853 the Pallada and the newly acquired schooner 
Vostok left Portsmouth and proceeded separately to the Madeira 
and the Cape Verde Islands and to Simon's Bay at the Cape of Good 
Hope. In April the vessels parted company again and, after a brief 
reunion at Hong Kong, followed their separate ways to the Bonin 
Islands, where two more vessels, the corvet Olivutsa and the trans- 
port Kniaz Menshikov awaited them. Together they set sail for Japan, 
urged on by the knowledge that Commodore Perry was a step ahead. 8 

On August 21, 1853 the Russian squadron arrived off Nagasaki, 
and the following morning entered the outer roadstead. The Dutch 
had written to the Japanese government of the imminence of a Rus- 
sian expedition "to follow the movements of the American fleet," 
but the warning had not yet reached the capital, and the unexpected 
appearance of the Russian men-of-war caused considerable consterna- 
tion. No attempt was made by the Nagasaki authorities, however, 
to interdict the Russian approach. Before the vessels had even 
dropped anchor, Osawa Shitetsu, Lord of Bungo, the governor of 
Nagasaki, sent permission for them to draw closer to the city. This 
was the first of many signs that the wall of seclusion was beginning 

eE.S.Creasv, The Fifteen Decisive Battles of the World, 329. 

■ Krupinski, 21; Osten-Saken, 388. 

s Evfimii Vasilevich Putiatin, "Vsepoddaneishii otchet general-adiutanta grafa Putia- 
tina," 22-40; Russia, Ministry of the Navy, Naval Scientific Section, "Otchet o plavanii 
fregata Pallada, shkuny Vostok, korveta Olivutsa i transporta Kniaz Menshikov' 
(hereinafter cited as Russia, "Otchet"), 132-149; Lensen, Russia's Japan Expedition, 



to crumble. As Putiatin observed, at the very beginning of his deal- 
ings with the Japanese, "the Japanese are no longer what they were 
forty or fifty years ago." 9 

The raids of Khvostov and Davydov, not to mention the high- 
handed conduct of the skipper of the English frigate Phaeton, who 

Cape of Good Hope 

Route of the Frigate Pallada 

in 1808 had exacted provisions in Nagasaki Harbor at gunpoint, had 
finally spurred the Shogunate into taking resolute steps to strengthen 
Japan's coastal defenses. But the determination of the officialdom 
was short-lived, and, before many years, foreign vessels were again 
able to approach the shores of Japan in quest of supplies without 
fear of the defense forces. New British violence had caused the Jap- 
anese government to issue, in 1825, the Ni-nen-naku (No-second- 

9 Putiatin, "Vsepoddaneishii otchet," 35. 



thought) Expulsion Order, which had commanded the local author- 
ities to initiate without hesitation or further deliberation hostilities 
against any foreign vessel that arrived in their territory. Hut, though 
the Morrison had been duly shelled at Uraga in 1837, half a decade 
later Japanese vigilance had relaxed again. The disastrous destruc- 
tion of Chinese warships by British men-of-war without loss to t he- 
latter, during the Opium War (1839-1842), had shocked Japanese 
officialdom, their apprehensions multiplied by wild rumors, which 
had magnified the size of British forces in the Far East and credited 
the British fleet with over twenty-five thousand vessels in number. 
Japanese resolution had become softened by caution, and in 1842 
official orders had been issued modifying the Ni-nen-naku edict; 
henceforth foodstuffs and fuel were to be provided for foreign ships, 
which would then be "advised" to go away. 10 When Commodore 
Perry arrived at the very gates of the capital in July of 1853, the 
Japanese batteries did not open fire, and the Shogunate, whose raison 
d'etre was the defense of the country against barbarians and which 
had issued decree after decree ordering the repulsion of the for- 
eigners, failed to act, without first seeking the advice of all the daimyo 
and officials of importance. As Lord Tokugawa Nariaki, one of the 
most noted statesmen of the day, summarized the procrastination 
of the government and the vacillation of the officialdom in defense 


There have already been clashes in Ezo during the Kansei [1789-1801] 
and Bunka [1804-18] periods, but despite the Shogunate's efforts to effect 
military preparations they have not yet been completed. Again, relaxation 
of the expulsion laws was ordered in 1842, with the apparent object of 
first placating the foreigners and then using the respite to complete mili- 
tary preparations, but here, too, I do not think the various lords have 
made any particular progress in rearming in the twelve years that have 
since elapsed. On the arrival of the foreign ships recently, all fell into 
panic. Some take matters very seriously while foreign ships are actually 
at anchor here, but once the ships leave and orders are given for them 
to revert to normal, they all relax once more into idleness and im- 
mediately disperse the military equipment which they had hurriedly 
assembled. It is just as if, regardless of a fire burning beneath the floor 
of one's house, one neglected all fire-fighting precautions. Indeed, it 
shows a shameful spirit. 11 

The Opium War, like the raids of Khvostov and Davydov, had 

10 Sansom, The Western World and Japan, 245-246. 

11 W. G. Beasley, Select Documents on Japanese Foreign Policy, 106. 



criven new momentum to individual demands for coastal defense. 
Takashima Shuhan, for example, urged Japanese adoption of West- 
ern gunnery and drill and himself trained a military unit, clad in 
new uniforms and responding to commands in Dutch. But his mod- 
ern methods of warfare did not arouse as much approval among 
the ruling samurai as might have been expected, because the Shogu- 
nate had lost much of its early military complexion, Confucian 
sentiment was powerful, and because Takashima had alienated some 
by his insistence on the opening of Japan in order to bolster her 
economy and rejuvenate her culture. Officials, like Egawa Tarozae- 
mon were favorably impressed by the Takashima-style drill and for 
a while Takashima was free to teach his methods. Reactionary op- 
position was plotting his ruin, however, and he was imprisoned and 
then confined under house arrest on charges of treason, espionage, 
and embezzlement. Only in 1853, when the arrival of Perry shook the 
more traditional officials out of their complacency, were Takashima's 
services sought again. 12 

Aizawa Seishisai and Fujita Toko challenged the assertion of those 
who favored the opening of Japan on the ground that foreign trade 
would benefit Japan, pointing out that in the past commercial re- 
lations had led to the exchange of valuable Japanese metals for value- 
less foreign luxuries. They agreed that trade with the West might help 
Japan acquire the modern weapons, which she needed, but feared 
that this advantage would be outweighed by the impact of Western 
culture on Japanese society, which was already threatened with dis- 
integration. War, or the threat of war, on the other hand, would 
serve to unite the Japanese people; after unity had been achieved, 
then Japan could reenter world affairs, adopting only those aspects 
of Western civilization, which it truly needed. Tokugawa Nariaki, 
most prominent advocate of the expulsion of the barbarians though 
he was, also recognized the value of Western learning. As early as 
1846, he urged the Shogunate to import Western books on such 
subjects as gunnery, and in later years, opposed as he was to the 
general study of Western culture, recommended the adoption of 
Western military training and even the use of foreign instructors. 
He wrote in 1854: "My view is, that without abandoning Japanese 
ways we should adopt the best of foreign methods and join them to 
the best of our own. 13 Attributing Western victory over China not 

isSansom, The Western World and Japan, 251-253. 
isBeasley, Select Documents, 10-12. 



merely to military superiority, but to the scientific achievements un- 
derlying this superiority, Sakuma Shozan strove for the application 
of modern methods to ancient traditions — "Western science and 
Eastern morals," as he put it. Unlike Tokugawa Nariaki, he favored 
a "qualified internationalism," believing it necessary that Japan 
should open her doors in order to let in Western knowledge, and, 
making use of that Western knowledge to strengthen her army, take 
a ranking position in world affairs. 14 

As in years past, a number of fiery patriots saw the answer to the 
foreign threat in counter-expansion on the part of Japan. Aizawa 
Hakumin, in 1825, viewed the defense of China and Japan against 
Russia as a single strategic problem. 15 Conscious of Japan's weak- 
ness, some hoped to facilitate Japanese expansion by alliances with 
one or two of the Western powers. Advocating Japanese expansion 
into Manchuria, Korea, India, and America, Hashimoto Sanai pro- 
posed, in the wake of the Opium War, friendly relations with the 
United States ("we must regard America as our national defense 
in the East") and an alliance with either England or Russia, whose 
conflicting interests and steadily increasing enmity precluded their 
coexistence as powers in the Far East. "I am strongly inclined toward 
Russia," Hashimoto wrote. "Great Britain is both tricky and more 
aggressive and takes unjustifiable steps. Moreover, she is self-centered. 
Russia is more trustworthy, and she is our neighbor, her borders 
adjoining those of Japan. If we should show a readiness to cooperate 
in a military way with Russia, she would recognize our friendship 
as being of great value and would make ample return by giving 
us needed assistance in international affairs." 16 

The arrival of Commodore Perry's "black ships" forced the sho- 
gunate to speed up its search for a suitable foreign policy. The 
edicts of repulsion seemed no longer practicable. The choice had 
narrowed down to two alternatives: permitting a limited amount of 
trade immediately or permitting it later. The coastal defense of- 
ficers Tsutsui Masanori and Kawaji Toshiakira would have pre- 

i^Sansom, The Western World and Japan, 256-258. 

is W. G. Beasley, Great Britain and the Opening of Japan, 36. 

16 Runo, 11, 355-357. See also Nakajima Shunzo, Hokuho bummei shiwa (Tokyo, 
1942). Like Yoshida Shoin and other nationalists whose outspokenness had been a 
thorn in the flesh of the shogunate, Hashimoto was beheaded in 1859, ironically after 
the opening of Japan. Discussing Hashimoto's advocacy of a Russo-Japanese alliance, 
as well as similar views in the twentieth century, Nakajima likens the history of Russo- 
Japanese relations to shukumei kankei— relations preordained by fate from a former 



ferred the former, and recommended that commercial relations be 
established with the United States, trade with the Dutch being cut 
in half. When Tokugawa Nariaki, to whom they made this recom- 
mendation, disagreed they backtracked on their proposal and set 
forth a policy of procrastination, hoping to avoid giving a definite 
reply for a period of five to ten years; by that time Japan should 
be able to have made the necessary military preparations and reject 
the foreign demands. The speedy departure of Perry gave support 
to the second alternative, and pressure removed, the shogunate 
slowed down the pace of deliberations. Then Putiatin arrived and 
the whole matter assumed new urgency. The question of an alliance 
with a foreign nation had already been broached earlier. Hashimoto 
had recommended relying on both Russia and the United States for 
assistance against all other countries; with Perry and Putiatin com- 
peting in the opening of Japan, substance was now given to the idea of 
relying on Russia and the United States as protection against each 
other. A number of junior officials, notably Tsutsui and Kawaji as 
well as Inoue Kiyonao, Iwase Tadanari, and Nagai Naomune con- 
ceived of using the Russians as a shield against the Americans. Argu- 
ing that in recent years powerful Russia had shown herself less 
dangerous than England, France, or America, they proposed that 
Japan make concessions to Russia in return for Russian help against 
all other countries. 17 

In a letter to Governor Osawa of Nagasaki, Oi Saburosuke, 
Baba Gorozaemon, and Shiraishi Tozaburo, his aides, wrote that the 
Russians had come to assist the Japanese after learning of secret 
American plans to invade Japan. They argued that there was con- 
sequently nothing disturbing in the arrival of the Russians, but 
that suspicion might arouse their resentment; thus they pleaded for 
the establishment of trade relations with Russia. Osawa agreed with 
this point of view and forwarded the letter to Abe Masahiro of the 
Supreme Council. Coastal Defense Officer Ishikawa Masahei also be- 
lieved in giving preference to Russia. He went so far as to advocate 
an exclusive commercial agreement with Russia, in return for which 
the latter would have to protect Japan against all other nations. 
Abe, on whose military staff these coastal defense officers were, no 
doubt considered their views. At any rate, he himself told Tokugawa 
Nariaki that he favored making an agreement with Russia and ward- 
ing off America. It does not follow from this that the Japanese 

17 Beasley, Select Documents, 24; Ishin Shiryo Hensan Jimusho, Ishin-shi, 11, 122-123. 



officials were Russophile, but simply that Russia at the time seemed 
the lesser of two evils, Russia having apologized for the actions of 
Khvostov and Davydov, and Putiatin speaking somewhat more softly 
than Perry, who was back at the shores of Japan with as many as 
nine men-of-war (carrying almost one-fourth of the entire personnel 
of the United States Navy) and threatened to multiply them tenfold 
within twenty days in case of hostilities. The outbreak of the Cri- 
mean War, however, weakened Russia's position as a potential pro- 
tector of Japan, and Abe and other Shogunate officials decided to 
extend the same policy to all foreigners. 

To ascertain what policy would be most advisable, the government 
sought the views of all the notables. Some lords replied that harbors 
should be opened to supply vessels with coal and foodstuffs only. 
Some felt that trade should be permitted for a fixed period of time; 
some that it should be halted, if not profitable. Some insisted that, 
harmful as friendship and commerce might be, war must be avoided. 
Some proposed that trade be tolerated only until the defenses were 
sufficiently strengthened to drive the foreigners away. Others de- 
manded outright rejection of Western demands and immediate prep- 
arations for war. Of the sixty-one clans whose answers have been 
handed down, twenty-two may be said to have favored opening the 
country, eighteen to avert war, nineteen to rebuff the Westerns, 
while two remained undecided. Some of the opinions wavered from 
one policy to another. Nevertheless it is clear that the majority of 
the lords came out in favor of opening the country and averting war. 

Similar views were expressed by most other officials. Coastal de- 
fense officers spoke of the eventual repulsion of the Westerners, but 
they too did not demand immediate hostilities. Only a very few 
samurai insisted on an uncompromising rejection of Western de- 
mands. Japanese publicists similarly fell into three categories: those 
who advocated the opening of the country, those who stressed the 
avoidance of war, and those who favored outright opposition — the 
latter were outnumbered at least two to one. The moderate tone 
of the policy to be followed, if and when the Americans returned 
again, as finally proclaimed by the councillors of state, reflected the 
anti-war trend of the replies: 

We have all carefully examined every proposal received concerning 
the letters from the United States of America and upon thorough con- 
sideration have presented them to the Shogun. His opinion is that there 
are differences in the various statements, but that in general they boil 



down to the two words "war" and "peace." Since in your estimation the 
defense lines etc. are not adequate today, we shall avoid a definite an- 
swer when they come next year, as stated in their letter. Although we 
on our part shall proceed as peacefully as possible, it is difficult to tell 
whether or not there will be violent conduct on their part. If so, we 
shall disgrace our country, unless spiritually prepared for it. We must, 
therefore, on one hand, try as hard as possible to make preparations for 
the practical use of the defenses and, on the other hand, must bear our 
indignation with patience and save up our heroism and carefully observe 
their movements. Should hostilities be opened on their part, we must 
in unison exhaust our strength and diligently show our loyalty so as not 
to defile our country even a little bit. 18 

The fact that most officials sought to avoid war did not mean 
that they were anxious to deal with the West. As in years past the 
views of those advocating the opening of the country (kaikoku) and 
of those favoring the expulsion of the foreigners (joi) were not 
strictly opposed to each other. "The policy of joi, like that of kaikoku, 
had its roots in the warnings about Russian expansion sounded at 
the end of the eighteenth century and it accordingly shared the 
general preoccupation with coastal defense." Both kaikoku and joi 
advocates regarded Western activities as a threat to Japan. They 
differed essentially only in the means of defending their country. 
Following the arrival of Commodore Perry those, who favored the 
opening of the country, argued with renewed vigor that Japan was 
not capable of resisting the Westerners, who now seemed prepared 
to resort to arms, if rebuffed again, and that temporary concessions 
would gain for Japan time to arm; while those, who opposed any 
concessions, even at the risk of war, argued that Japan was too un- 
prepared for the introduction of foreign ideas and that reforms at 
home must precede the opening of the country. In a lengthy memo- 
rial on coastal defense in August of 1853, Tokugawa Nariaki clearly 
stated the case of those who wished the Westerners repelled by force 
of arms: War was a means of uniting the Japanese people and "if 
the people of Japan stand firmly united, if we complete our military 
preparations and return to the state of society that existed before 
the Middle Ages, then we will even be able to go out against foreign 
^ountrks and spread abroad our fame and prestige." A policy of 
appeasement would endanger Japan not only from abroad but also 
from within. "I hear that all, even though they be commoners, who 
have witnessed the recent actions of the foreigners, think them abomi- 

islnobe, 495"5 1 3- 



nahlc; and if the Shogunate docs not expel these insolent Eoreigners 

root and branch there may he some who will complain in secret, 
asking to what purpose have been all the preparations of gun-em- 
placements," Tokugawa wrote and warned that "since even ignorant 
commoners are talking in this way, I Tear that if the Shogunate does 
not decide to carry out expulsion . . . the lower orders may fail to 
understand its ideas and hence opposition might arise from evil men 
who had lost their respect for Shogunate authority. It might even 
be that Shogunate control of the great lords would itself be en- 
dangered." 1 " 

Yoshida Shoin expressed the same sentiment in poems which 
were remembered by his countrymen in World War II. 

Abokuto ga 

Yora wo yaku shi 
Kitaru tomo 
Sonae no araba 
Nadoko osoren. 

Sonae to wa 

Kan to ho to no 


Waga shikishima no 

Yamato damashii. 

Nana tabi mo 
Ikikaeri tsutsu 
Ebisu wo zo 
Harawan kokoro 
Ware wasureme ya. 

Even if the Americans 

With the Europeans as allies 

Come to invade us, 

If our defence is strong, 

There is nothing to fear. 

# # # 

Our defence 

Is not the warship and the cannon, 

Rut it is 

Our Japanese spirit. 

# # # 

Even if I return 

Seven times from the dead. 

I shall never forget 

To drive away 

The foreigner. 20 

Like Honda Toshiaki and Sanai Hashimoto, Yoshida went be- 
yond the mere repulsion of the foreigners, and advocated Japanese 
expansion on the Asiatic continent. He envisaged a defensive al- 
liance with Russia and, at one time, Japanese conquest of territory 
in India, South America, and even in Europe. His line of argument 
ran as follows: 

The sun rises or otherwise sets. The moon likewise waxes or otherwise 
wanes. The nation is destined to decline unless it advances and flourishes. 
Therefore, those who know how to look after the welfare of their country 
should not be satisfied with maintaining and protecting that which their 

19 Beasley, Select Documents, 8, 15, 102-107. 

20 H. van Straelen, Yoshida Shoin, nn-117. 



country already has, but at the same time should aim to reform and 
improve upon that which their country already possesses. They should 
also strive to gain and add that which their country has not, thereby 
extending the power and glory of the nation beyond its borders. Present- 
day Japan should first of all complete her military preparations, by 
building the necessary battleships and by providing herself with all 
sorts of military weapons and ammunition. Then she should develop 
and colonize Yezo and entrust its rule to worthy feudal lords. At her 
earliest opportunity, Japan should occupy Kamchatka with an army 
and place the Sea of Okhotsk under her sole control. Liu Chiu [otherwise 
known as Lu Choo or as Ryu Kyu] should be instructed to make her king 
come in person to pay homage to Japan as do all the feudal lords in the 
homeland. Japan should upbraid Korea for her long negligence in the 
observation of her duty to Japan, and have her send tribute-bearing 
envoys, and Japan should also instruct Korea to give hostages to Japan 
for her good behavior, as she did during the glorious imperial period 
of ancient Japan. In the north, Manchuria should be sliced off [from 
China for the benefit of Japan]. In the south, Japan should receive [take 
under her control] Formosa and the Philippines. In this way, Japan 
should demonstrate her policy of expansion to the outside world. We 
should always look after the welfare of our people. At the same time, we 
should raise and train fighting men to meet the needs of the nation. Then 
our country and the far-off lands in our possession will be well guarded 
and protected. By pursuing these policies, Japan may go forth into the 
world and proclaim that she is able to maintain her national standing. 
If a nation in this struggling world should be surrounded by nations of 
aggressive inclination and should remain inactive, she would certainly 
be destined to decline and become obscure. 21 

Blatant as the call to arms of the joi spokesmen sounded, it was to 
a certain extent for home consumption — to unite the people behind 
the government — the actual policy of these militarists toward the 
foreigners often being a more conciliatory, sort of "war at home, 
peace abroad" policy.- 2 The political implications embodied in prac- 
tically every argument for or against the opening of Japan — the 
request for advice on the part of the government being in itself a sign 
of its indecision and weakness — help to explain why the Shogunate 
viewed without enthusiasm pronouncements, however patriotic, that 
emphasized its lack of military preparedness. The Shogunate's uneasi- 
ness was not without foundation for it outlasted the opening of the 
country by only about fourteen years. The ambition of young samurai 
was a prime factor in the ultimate downfall of the Tokugawa, and 
the Dutch Studies (with the accompanying demands for coastal 

21 Kuno, ii, 352-353. 22 Beasley, Select Documents, 13. 



defense and the opening of the country) were a means for the young 
samurai's personal and political ends. Personal rivalry was therefore 
an inevitable factor in the strategic and political considerations of 
the officialdom. Significantly, once the Shogunate had decided to 
acquiesce in the opening of the country, the joi arguments assumed 
political significance as "a stick to beat the Bakufu." 23 The conse- 
quent fear of its own officials on the part of the shogunate and vice 
versa often seemed to crowd out the apprehension of Western de- 
signs. The ultimate fate of Yoshida is a case in point. An ardent 
patriot and essentially anti-western, he tried to leave Japan with 
Putiatin and, when he missed the Russian ships, with Perry, in order 
to learn Western military methods. He was caught and, following 
his involvement in a plot against the Shogunate, sentenced to death. 
His sentence read: 

Item: He tried to go to America. 

Item: He advised the government on coastal defense while in jail. 

Item: He opposed hereditary succession to office and favored the selection 

of able men by popular vote. 
Item: He planned to give his opinion concerning foreigners to the 

Item: He did such things while in domiciliary confinement, thus showing 

great disrespect for high officials. 24 

The expressed desire for peace on the part of most Japanese had 
not been a declaration of sympathy for America or Russia, but a 
confession of weakness. Disagreeing with the contention of Toku- 
gawa Nariaki that "if we do not drive them [the Americans] away 
now, we shall never have another opportunity," most officials fol- 
lowed the line of thought of Abe Masahiro, president of the Supreme 

... as we are not the equals of foreigners in the mechanical arts, let us 
have intercourse with foreign countries, learn their drill and tactics and 
when we have made the nation as united as one family, we shall be able 
to go abroad and give lands in foreign countries to those who have dis- 
tinguished themselves in battle; the soldiers will vie with one another in 
displaying their intrepidity, and it will not be too late then to declare 
war. Now we shall have to defend ourselves against these foreign enemies 
skilled in the use of mechanical appliances, with our soldiers whose mili- 

23Sansom, The Western World and Japan, 254-255; Beasley, Select Documents, 16. 

24Sansom, The Western World and Japan, 274; van Straelen, 44. Perry refused to 
take along Yoshida. Inasmuch as Putiatin carried away another Japanese, it is quite 
possible that Yoshida, had he reached Nagasaki in time, might have succeeded in his 



tary skill has considerably diminished during a long peace of three hun- 
dred years, and we certainly could not feel sure of victory, especially in 
a naval war. 25 

To the interpreters, who brought the permission to enter the inner 
roadstead, the Russians announced that they had a letter for the 
governor, in which the reasons for their arrival were explained. The 
following day, on August 23, Putiatin explained to two city elders, 
who had come aboard with their retinue and interpreters, that he 
had brought letters from Chancellor Nesselrode to the governor of 
Nagasaki and to Japan's Supreme Council and wished to transmit 
them personally to the governor. But Osawa would not and could 
not meet Putiatin without permission from the Shogunate. He agreed 
to accept the letter addressed to himself, if the Russians would hand 
it to his subordinates. The paper to the Supreme Council, on the 
other hand, he refused to accept under any conditions without in- 
structions from Edo. Putiatin agreed to wait as long as a month for 
some reply from the Japanese government, but if no answer was 
received by then, he would take his squadron to the very capital 
and there negotiate directly with the government. 

The thirty days were not up, when the Japanese informed Putiatin 
on September 18, that the governor had been granted permission to 
receive the admiral and to accept the paper. All that remained to be 
done before the meeting was to determine the proper ceremonial 
formalities. For over two days Japanese and Russians haggled over 
details, determined not to humiliate their country in the eyes of the 
other. No longer were the Russians willing, as Rezanov had been, 
to ride ashore in Japanese boats, to remove their boots when entering 
a Japanese building, or to squat on the matted floor. Nor were they 
satisfied to limit the size of the landing party to that of Rezanov's 
retinue. The Japanese pointed to Rezanov's embassy as a restricting 
precedent, but unswayed, Putiatin remarked that the present embassy 
had been undertaken on a larger scale. 26 

On September 21, Putiatin went ashore with his fellow officers and 
orderlies, guard of honor, band and banners. Without the slightest 
fear of meeting the type of reception accorded to Golovnin, Putiatin 

25 Ernest Satow, Japan 1853-1864, 5-8. 

26 Ivan Goncharov, Fregat Palladia, 2-38; Koga Kinichiro, "Roshia osetsu-kakan Koga 
Kinichiro (Masaru) seishi nikki," 197, 238; Bakumatsu, 1, 539-54 1 ; Putiatin, "Vsepod- 
daneishii otchet," 41-48; Tokutomi, xxxi, 327-328; Martin Ramming, "Ober den Anted 
der Russen und der Eroffnung Japans fur den Verkehr mit den Westlichen Machten," 
18; Russia, "Otchet," 150-151. 



entered the government office with only a dozen companions, and 
boldly walked past row after row of Japanese retainers. In the audi- 
ence hall the Russians seated themselves on chairs brought from the 
ship, while the Japanese settled on a small platform of similar 
height.- 7 After the usual refreshments and "rest" from the negotia- 
tions not yet begun, Governor Osawa accepted Nesselrode's letter to 
the Supreme Council, but announced that a speedy reply was not 
possible. Putiatin, who had catered to Japanese good will by coming 
to Nagasaki, renewed his threat of moving to the capital, if the Japa- 
nese procrastinated, a threat, which visibly impressed Osawa. 

The Japanese would not permit the Russians to live on shore, but 
they suggested that they draw closer to land. This the Russians did, 
examining life on shore through their telescopes. But they retained 
their freedom of operations, scattering the vessels over the roadstead 
and brooking no interference with the movement of their boats. 

Time passed. The first anniversary of the expedition was cele- 
brated on October 7. The arrival of a new governor, Mizuno 
Tadanori, Lord of Chikugo, in late September had not accelerated 
matters. On October 21, the Japanese announced that their shogun, 
Tokugawa Ieyoshi, had died shortly after the arrival of the vessels 
and that a further delay in answer was inevitable. Putiatin sympa- 
thized with the Japanese loss, but argued that no circumstances 
could be permitted to halt the affairs of a great state and noted that 
the death had not prevented the Supreme Council from accepting 
the Russian letter and from determining the formalities of his meet- 
ing with Osawa. Again he threatened to move to Edo Bay and was 
about to do so, when the Japanese, on November 18, hastily pro- 
duced a letter from Abe Masahiro to the effect that four plenipoten- 
tiaries were on their way from the capital to negotiate with him. 
Putiatin agreed to wait, but, as the letter did not specify when the 
plenipotentiaries would reach Nagasaki and since it seemed unlikely 
that they would arrive for at least another month, decided to make 
a quick trip to Shanghai in order to stock up on fresh supplies, change 
some of his letters of credit, repair some damages on the Vostok, and 
gather news about the latest developments in Europe. The Kniaz 
Menshikov had reported in September, after a visit to China, that a 
break between Russia on one hand, and Turkey, France, and England 
on the other was imminent. Putiatin sent ashore papers for the 

27 For pictures of the negotiations, see Lensen, Russia's Japan Expedition, between 
pages 34 and 35. 



plenipotentiaries, and, warning the Japanese that, if upon his return 
to Nagasaki he found neither the plenipotentiaries nor a reply to the 
Russian state paper, he would continue directly to the capital, he 
departed with his squadron on November 23. 

On January 3, 1854, the Russians returned to Nagasaki. The 
plenipotentiaries had not come yet, but Putiatin was persuaded to 
wait until the twelfth. On the seventh, the plenipotentiaries duly 
arrived and two days later Putiatin was informed of it. On the twelfth, 
Putiatin went ashore to meet with the plenipotentiaries. The Russian 
landing was executed with greater ceremony and pomp than ever. 
As the boats pushed off from the flag-bedecked vessels, the band 
struck up "God Save the Tsar"; the sailors cheered lustily, and 
cannons thundered in salute. On land the Russians fell into military 
formation and, to the merry tunes of the band, marched briskly to 
the meeting place. 

In the western government office the plenipotentiaries of both 
countries faced each other. Japan was represented by the amiable, 
aged Tsutsui Masanori, Lord of Hizen, and the younger, but more 
important Kawaji Toshiakira, an intelligent and energetic samurai 
in the early fifties, as well as by Arao Narimasa, Lord of Tosa, and 
Koga Masaru, a Confucian scholar. Putiatin was assisted by an equal 
number of countrymen: by Lieutenant Commander Ivan Unkovskii, 
commander of the Palladia, by Lieutenant Commander Konstantin 
Poset, and by Ivan Goncharov, the celebrated writer of later years, 
who had joined the expedition as secretary to Putiatin. The Japanese 
plenipotentiaries were all politeness, and so were the Russians. The 
apparent genuineness of their greetings and compliments belied the 
fact that there was a vital conflict between the policies of their coun- 
tries. Tsutsui seemed perfectly sincere, when he told the Russians 
at the banquet, which was shortly spread out: "We have come from 
beyond many hundreds, you from many thousands of miles. We had 
never seen each other, were so far apart, and now have become 
acquainted, sit, chat and dine together. How strange and pleasant 
this is!" 

The first meeting was confined to pleasantries, the Japanese refus- 
ing to mar the etiquette of introduction by launching into business 
talk. It was followed three days later, on the fifteenth, by a meeting 
on the Pallada, but now the Russians entertained and the Japanese 
still refused to consider matters of state. It was a meeting of mutual 
merrymaking, initiated by the exchange of splendid gifts, including 



an exquisite Japanese sword presented by Kawaji as "a gesture ol 

The spirits of the Japanese seemed the gayer tor all the trepidation 
with which they had anticipated the meeting. Tsutsui had warned 
his colleagues that if they went aboard the Russian ship, the Russians 
might press upon them and try to force them to determine Japan's 
boundaries. Others had expressed the fear, remembering perhaps 
what had happened to Takadaya Kahei, that the Russians would 
kidnap the plenipotentiaries, and made various proposals for setting 
fire to the frigate. But Kawaji reflected the impact of mounting 
foreign pressure on Japan, when he argued that Japan could not 
afford to arouse the hostility of Russia and that it would he best, 
were he captured aboard ship, for him to proceed to Russia and to 
confer with its ruler. Now that it was evident that the Russians had 
no such designs, the Japanese were greatly relieved. But they did not 
take every compliment at its face value and inwardly watched the 
"barbarians" with a mixture of mistrust and patronage. 

On January 16, the plenipotentiaries finally transmitted their 
government's reply, artistically written on thick gilded paper, and 
wrapped in several layers of silk, boxed in a delicate lacquered box, 
the innermost of a shell of six boxes. Even more ornate in style than 
in appearance, the Russians could not decipher it and requested a 
Dutch translation. This caused some embarrassment, for the Japa- 
nese interpreters themselves could not understand it and Koga, one 
of the plenipotentiaries, had to translate the difficult Chinese text 
into Japanese, so that it could be rendered into Dutch and ultimately 
into Russian. Both sides agreed that henceforth all notes must be 
in Japanese, Chinese, and Dutch. 28 

The state paper which Putiatin had brought, demanded the 
clarification of the boundaries between Russia and Japan and the 
opening of Japanese ports to Russian vessels. Nesselrode had written 
that the boundary question could be postponed no longer, that its 
solution was "the basis of mutual peace." He assured the Japanese 
government that Russia was vast in extent and had no further terri- 
torial ambitions, and that the Tsar merely wished to safeguard profits 
justly belonging to his subjects. He had requested, therefore, that it 

28 Goncharov, Fregat Pallada, 104, 110, 180-210; Putiatin, "Vsepoddaneishii otchet," 
49-56; Tokutomi, xxxi, 358; Russia, Ministry of the Navy, Naval Scientific Section, 
"Izvlechenie iz pisem morskikh ofitserov: Zarubina, Peshchurova i Boltina" (hereafter 
cited as Russia, "Izvlechenie"), 324-325; Kawaji Saemon-no-jo "Roshia osetsu-kakari 
Kawaji Saemon-no-jo (Toshiakira) nikki," 35-39, 49, 134; Koga, 198, 236-246. 



be determined at a joint conference, conducted "for the benefit of 
both countries," which islands constituted the northern and southern 
boundaries of Japan and Russia respectively and who owned the 
southern coast of Sakhalin. As to the opening of Japanese ports to 
Russian vessels, Nesselrode had conveyed the wish of the Tsar to 
see Japanese ports opened to Russian merchantmen for commercial 
relations and to Russian warships, on their way to America, for 
replenishing supplies in case of emergency. Nesselrode denied any 
intentions of depriving the Japanese of profit, and pointing out the 
proximity of the two countries argued that it was only natural for 
them to have friendly intercourse. He emphasized the peculiarity of 
Russia's position, insisting that establishing relations with Russia 
would be different from having relations with distant countries. 29 

The Japanese in their reply agreed in principle to the clarification 
of the boundaries between Japan and Russia and declared that border 
fiefs had been already ordered to make a careful investigation and 
that envoys would be sent to confer with Russian officials. At the 
same time, they remonstrated that reliable maps and documents were 
needed and that the problem required most scrupulous examination; 
"such an investigation cannot be done today." As to trade, the Su- 
preme Council reiterated that it was strictly prohibited by laws 
handed down from their ancestors, and reminded the Russians that 
they had frequently been so informed. In the same breath the 
government retreated from the unequivocal stand of former years, 
and alluded to an ultimate change in policy, conceding that the 
world situation was changing rapidly and that trade was developing 
steadily. "We definitely cannot take the old tradition and laws to 
regulate present day affairs." The Supreme Council admitted that 
the Americans had demanded commercial relations and that others 
would no doubt follow suit. Nesselrode had asserted that the prox- 
imity of Russia put her in a special position vis-a-vis Japan, but the 
Supreme Council replied that, "if we trade, we shall trade with all 
countries, if we refuse, we shall refuse all. If we sign a treaty with 
your country, we cannot but sign with all nations." This line of 
argument shows not only the realization on the part of Japanese 
statesmen that the rivalry of Western powers could be turned to the 
advantage of Japan, but it permitted the Supreme Council to develop 
a logical plea for delay. "Considering that we have only the strength 
of one nation to supply the demands of ten thousand nations scat- 

29 Bakumatsu, II, 141; Tokutomi, xxxi, 341-342. 



tered like stars, we do not know whether our resources will suffice." 
A study would have to be made of Japan's potentialities and of her 
needs. "There are numerous and complicated problems that cannot 
be decided in a day or a night." Furthermore the new sovereign had 
not yet familiarized himself with everything, the whole problem 
would have to be reported to Kyoto, and the feudal lords would have 
to be consulted. "From the looks of things, it will take at least three 
to five years." The Japanese realized that this might look like mere 
procrastination, but asked the Russians to have patience. They 
promised to inform them as soon as they reached a decision. To come 
again before that would be a waste of time. "What advantage would 
you gain from this endless running around?" Meanwhile the Russians 
could obtain firewood, food, and water at Nagasaki. "We are ashamed 
that it has to be this way," the leaders of Japan concluded, "but we 
cannot keep quiet, therefore answer you like this." 30 

Putiatin was not satisfied with the reply, and during the negotia- 
tions that followed on shore almost daily between himself, Poset, 
Iosif Goshkevich (the Russian Chinese language specialist), Goncha- 
rov and one or two other Russian officers on one hand and the Japa- 
nese officials on the other, from January 18 to February 1, pressed 
for the immediate opening of Japan, alluding now to the inadequacy 
of the defenses of Nagasaki, now to the advantages of foreign trade 
and tempting the Japanese not only with offers of foodstuffs and 
domestic necessities, but of steamers and big guns. Yet the Japanese 
demurred. "Trade in our place is new. It has not yet matured; one 
must deliberate how to trade, where and with what. . . . You give a 
maiden into marriage when she grows up; our trade has not yet 
grown up." 31 

Negotiations reached an impasse and, finally, the Japanese plenipo- 
tentiaries announced that they must return to the capital, where 
the Russian demands would be studied further. When they visited 
the frigate, on February 1, to attend a farewell banquet and exchange 
more gifts with the Russians, a highly interesting conversation en- 
sued between Putiatin and Kawaji, during which the latter acknowl- 
edged that Russia as a neighboring country, with boundaries adjacent 

30 Bakumatsu, in, 53-54; Tokutomi, xxxi, 411-413. Signed by: Abe Masahiro (Lord of 
Ise), Makino Tadamasa (Lord of Bizen), Matsudaira Noriyasu (Lord of Izumi), Matsu- 
daira Tadayoshi (Lord of Iga), Kuze Hiroshika (Lord of Yamato), Naito Nobuchika 
(Lord of Kii). 

si Goncharov, Fregat Palladia, 233; Kyozawa Kiyoshi, Gaiko-shi, 59. 



to those of Japan, deserved special consideration, and promised that 
"should communication and trade be permitted to foreign countries, 
they will of course be permitted to Russia," and that "if trade will 
be permitted, the things permitted to foreigners will also be per- 
mitted to Russia." Most important of all, in view of Commodore 
Perry's negotiations in Edo Bay and his rejection of an offer by 
Putiatin to make common cause, was Kawaji's probing declaration 
that "even when in the future we open amicable relations, because 
your country is a great country with boundaries adjacent to ours, 
we consider you as a defense against other countries," and Putiatin's 
ready assurance that " in the event that people from other countries 
cause violent disturbances, we are prepared to give you any assist- 
ance." 32 Two days later, on February 3, Putiatin received a note from 
the plenipotentiaries in which they promised Russia preferential 
treatment. "Should our country finally permit trade," they wrote, 
"it will be first to your country." 33 

There was little sense in remaining in Nagasaki while the plenipo- 
tentiaries returned to the capital. It was too early in the season to 
attempt passage to the northern territories of Russia, and the waste 
shores of Tatar Strait and the Sea of Okhotsk lacked the supplies 
which the expedition needed. Putiatin decided, therefore, to sail 
to the Philippines, some Russian letters of credit having been ad- 
dressed to Manila. He planned to resume the negotiations with the 
plenipotentiaries in the spring, but by then, it appeared, Russia 
would be at war with England and France and he did not know 
whether he could risk returning to Japan itself. At the last moment, 
therefore, on February 5, when he had weighed anchor and the 
Japanese had no time to object, he sent word that the plenipoten- 
tiaries meet him in the spring in Aniwa Bay. It was no doubt this 
decision that brought the great influx of Japanese officialdom to 
Sakhalin, which had so concerned Busse. But Putiatin did not come 
to the place, which he himself had selected, even though he repeated 
his intention to do so, when he stopped at Nagasaki, from April 18 
to 26, on his way back from the Philippines. 

Meanwhile Tsarist occupation of the decadent Ottoman Empire's 
Danubian principalities in an attempt to pressure the "Sick Man 
of Europe" into granting Russia a protectorate over Orthodox 
churches in Constantinople "and elsewhere" had aroused much 

32 Bakumatsu, iv, 38-40; Koga, 259. 

33 Bakumatsu, iv, 54. 



opposition. The Turks had declared war on Russia in October 1853, 
and the English and French had followed suit on March 28, 1854. 
As a consequence Russian efforts to establish regular relations with 
Japan had to be cut down. 

When Putiatin reached the eastern shore of Siberia, orders awaited 
him to take his vessels into De-Kastri Bay. On July 4, 1854, Governor 
General Muravev came aboard the Palladia. The corvet Olivutsa had 
separated from the expedition, even before the April visit to Naga- 
saki, in order to assist in the defense of Kamchatka. Muravev now 
released the transport Kniaz Menshikov to the local authorities of 
the Russian-American Company, and gave a special assignment to 
the schooner Vostok. As for the flagship, the frigate Palladia, Muravev 
ordered her to seek shelter from ice and enemies in the confines of the 
Amur River. It had been obvious from the very beginning that 
the Pallada was no longer sturdy enough to withstand the rigors of 
the protracted Japan expedition, and Putiatin had requested as 
early as spring of 1853, that the newly constructed frigate Diana of 
the Baltic Fleet be sent in replacement. When the Diana now reached 
De-Kastri Bay, Putiatin moved aboard (August 16, 1854), keeping 
at his side all the officers (except Unkovskii) and many of the sailors 
of the Pallada. On October 15, 1854 Putiatin departed once more 
for the shores of Japan. 

It had been Putiatin's original intention to continue negotiations 
in Aniwa Bay. But the contingent of Major Busse had already been 
removed from the island, partly because its presence might have 
invited British attack. Whether Putiatin considered the neutral har- 
bors of Japan proper more secure, whether the speed of his new 
frigate made the long crossing less dangerous, or whether temporary 
American occupation of the Liu Ch'iu Islands "in reclamation for 
some demands that had not been satisfied by the Japanese govern- 
ment" had spurred him on to more forthright action — whatever 
the reason — Putiatin had taken advantage of the lifting of the Russian 
post on Sakhalin to send word to Tsutsui and Kawaji that he had 
decided to resume the negotiations in a harbor near the Japanese 
capital. 34 He sailed directly to Hakodate, from where he sent a letter 
to the Japanese government, giving notice that he was on his way 
to Osaka and requesting that the plenipotentiaries be sent there to 
conclude the negotiations. 

34 Putiatin, "Vsepoddaneishii otchet," 60-70; Russia, "Otchet," 163-173; Hokkaido-shi, 
11, 589. 



Much had happened since Putiatin's last visit. His expedition had 
shrunk from four vessels to one and the one was restricted in its 
movements, for fear that it be tracked down by superior Anglo- 
French forces. Most important of all, despite the promise of priority 
of treatment that Kawaji had made to Putiatin, the Japanese govern- 
ment had concluded a Treaty of Amity and Friendship with the 
United States (March 31, 1854) and with Great Britain (October 14). 
The Treaty of Kanagawa between Japan and the United States 
provided for (1) "a perfect, permanent, and universal peace, and a 
sincere and cordial amity between the two countries"; (2) the open- 
ing of the ports of Shimoda and Hakodate "as ports for the reception 
of American ships, where they can be supplied with wood, water, 
provisions, and coal, and other articles their necessities may require, 
as far as the Japanese have them"; (3) reciprocal assistance to vessels 
in distress, American crews cast to the shores of Japan to be delivered 
into the hands of their fellow countrymen at Shimoda or Hakodate; 
(4) freedom from confinement and freedom of movement of casta- 
ways and other temporary inhabitants within designated limits in 
Shimoda and Hakodate; (5) exchange of gold and silver coins and 
various goods by American vessels according to Japanese regulations; 
(6) procurement of wood, water, provisions, coal and other necessities 
through the agency of special Japanese officers only; (7) most-favored- 
nation treatment (the automatic extension to the United States of 
privileges and advantages granted to other countries); (8) the appoint- 
ment of American consuls or agents to reside in Shimoda a year and 
a half after signature of the treaty "provided that either of the two 
governments deem such arrangement necessary." 35 

Perry's success paved the way for a Russo-Japanese agreement, but 
not, it must be added, because Perry had wished to open Japan to 
all countries. On the contrary, Perry had tried repeatedly to thwart 
Russian plans and would have been delighted to exclude Russia 
from Japan. Nor was Perry's success an asset to Russian diplomacy 
in that it multiplied foreign pressure. Prior to the signing of the 
Japanese-American treaty this had been true, but now it was not the 
fear of combined foreign pressure, but the hope of manipulating 
rival foreign pressures so that they cancel each other out — the time- 
honored Chinese strategy of "fighting barbarians with barbarians" — 
that made the Japanese almost eager to conclude an agreement with 

35 William M. Malloy, Treaties, i, 996-998. 



Russia. Kawaji and Tsutsui had not knowingly deceived Putiatin 
with their promises. Liaison between Edo and Nagasaki had been 
inadequate and communications slow. When, on their way back to 
the capital, they had learned of the conclusion of the Japanese-Ameri- 
can treaty, they had offered their resignations in protest and had 
agreed to continue in their positions as plenipotentiaries only after 
the Shogunate had authorized them to grant the Russians upon their 
return the same concessions that had been made to the Americans. 3 " 
When Ptitiatin arrived in Hakodate (October 21), he was informed 
that the Japanese government had already written to his government 
through the Dutch, suggesting that someone be sent to conclude the 
negotiations begun by him. He was not able, however, to resume the 
negotiations in Osaka. When he arrived there, on November 7, the 
Japanese insisted that the harbor was not open to Westerners. A 
courier was sent to Edo and word was brought back that the plenipo- 
tentiaries would meet with Putiatin at Shimoda, one of the ports 
opened by the American treaty. Putiatin reached Shimoda on De- 
cember 4. He was displeased with the unprotected anchorage, but 
stayed where he was in order to avoid further delay. The plenipo- 
tentiaries had not yet arrived and the Russians went ashore to explore 
the countryside, roving about town, blowing bugles, and singing 
songs, while the inevitable crowd of children followed noisily in their 
footsteps. At the same time the Russians kept a close look-out for 
the English. In Yura Strait one of the castaways, repatriated by 
Lindenberg near Shimoda in 1852, had managed to get aboard the 
frigate to warn the Russians that the British squadron of Sir James 
Sterling had been in Nagasaki waters as late as October. The Diana 
was kept ready for all eventualities, and the seamen were exhorted 
"to fight to the last drop of blood" and "not to surrender alive." 37 

The Japanese plenipotentiaries arrived by the middle of December 
and, after the usual exchange of formal visits on shore and aboard 
ship (December 20-21), negotiations were resumed in earnest, on 
December 22, at the Fukusen Temple. Since Kawaji and Tsutsui 
had come prepared to extend to Putiatin whatever concessions Perry 
had obtained, Putiatin could have concluded a treaty in no time had 
he satisfied himself with the provisions of the American agreement. 

so Ramming, "tiber den Anteil der Russen," 25. 

3T Vasilii Makhov, Fregat Diana, 35-37; Putiatin, "Vsepoddaneishii otchet," 72-78; 
Nikolai G. Schilling, 11, "Iz vospominanii starago moriaka," 146-149; Illustrated London 
News, "British Expedition at Japan," 94-99; Putiatin, "Raport General-Adiutanta 
Putiatina Velikomu Kniaziu General-Admiralu," 231. 



But Perry had concluded little more than a shipwreck convention 
and the ports opened by the Japanese were most disadvantageous — 
isolated from the heart of Japan by distance or natural barriers, and 
were in themselves a partial negation of the unwilling concession. 
Piitiatin wished to substitute better and more harbors; above all he 
wanted to determine the Russo-Japanese frontier. 

The negotiations had barely been resumed, when sudden disaster 
overtook both sides. In the forenoon of December 23, an earthquake 
shook the area and a great tidal wave deluged the coast. Billows of 
water, some twenty-one feet above normal sea level, washed the entire 
town of Shimoda into the Pacific, while the Diana was caught in a 
furious whirlpool between an island at sea and the shore, and was 
spun around and around for forty-two complete rotations in half 
an hour. She tilted precariously, developed a serious leak and lost her 
sternpost and rudder; but she was not smashed against any of the 

When the ocean subsided, an inspection of the Diana showed that 
she required major repairs. The ship's artillery pieces with gun 
carriages were taken ashore to lighten the vessel, while Russian and 
Japanese officers examined nearby bays to find a suitable place for 
the urgent repairs. On January 12, the Diana weighed anchor and 
began to limp toward the Bay of Heda, in the company of a Russian- 
manned junk. The frigate safely rounded the southern promontory 
of Izu peninsula and slowly pushed northward. But with every day 
the battle became more hopeless — wind and swell continued to 
weaken the frigate; pump after pump kept breaking down; and 
her leaking increased steadily. On January 16 and 17, all hands were 
taken ashore with the aid of the Japanese. The following day their 
personal belongings were taken off the vessel. On January 19, the 
Diana was taken in tow by over a hundred Japanese boats in an 
attempt to pull her to sheltered Heda Harbor, and there run her 
aground, pump out the water, and make a new keel. For a while all 
went well and success seemed close at hand, when a sudden storm 
forced the boats to desert the frigate. The wind swung the Diana 
around and drove her back. Soon she began to list, rolled over, and 
sank. The Russian-Japanese expedition, which had been reduced 
already from four vessels to one, now had none. Putiatin and his 
whole crew were completely at the mercy of the Japanese. 38 

38 Putiatin, "Vsepoddaneishii otchet," 79-90; Putiatin, "Raport," 232-242; Schilling, 
151-159, 247-263; Koga, 356-357; Makhov, Fregat Diana, 43-48. 




The shipwreck of the Diana (not unlike the captivity of Golovnin) 
proved to be a blessing in disguise. Though it was Western pressure 
that precipitated the opening of Japan, it was paradoxically Western 
pressure that the Japanese resisted most. The tragedy of Shimoda 
brought both sides together in a bond of mutual commiseration, and 
insured a protracted contact between Russians and Japanese. Above 
all, it deprived the Russians of the show of power. As Kawaji noted 
in his diary, "The Russians were repeatedly humble in speech . . . 
their words tamed us greatly." 39 Always anxious lest it lose face in 
the eyes of its own subjects by yielding to foreign threats, the Japa- 
nese government was now in a position, where it could well afford 
to be generous. It would have been easy for the Japanese to have 
wiped out the Russian expedition, as Tokugawa Nariaki indeed 
recommended. 40 All they really would have had to do would have 
been to turn their back on the Russian disaster. Instead, they exerted 
every effort to help the Russians. They assisted in attempts to keep 
the Diana afloat, and when this proved impossible helped to bring 
the crew ashore safely, and supported the Russians in spite of the 
great privations they themselves were suffering at the time. As 
Putiatin reported to his government, "one cannot praise enough 
their philanthropic care for us." 41 Nor was gratitude one-sided. The 
Japanese deeply appreciated the fact that the Russians, as they were 
being battered themselves by the tidal wave, valiantly rescued some 
Japanese, who had been swept into the sea and that the following day 
the admiral himself had gone ashore with Poset and the doctor to 
offer their help. Had the vessel sunk and had all the Russians drowned 
during the tidal wave, the Japanese would not have been particularly 
distressed; some indeed would have been pleased. Once the Japanese 
had begun towing the frigate and otherwise assisting the Russians, 
however, they had incurred a moral obligation for their welfare, 
which they could not dismiss now, even if they had wished to do so. 
Sighed Koga: "The will of Heaven really cannot be understood." 42 
Inherent generosity, gratitude, or moral obligation — whatever the 
motivation of Japanese solicitude— the Japanese appeared in a new 
light to the Russians. They appeared as "the kindest of people." The 
priest Vasilii Makhov wrote: 

The compassion of the Japanese government promptly expressed itself 
in sincere goodness of heart, particular consideration, and manifest phi- 

39 Kawaji, 148. 40 Beasley, Select Documents, 

41 Putiatin, "Raport," 242. 42 Koga, 356. 


1 1. 


lanthropy. The officials specially sent from the capital city, bemoaned 
the misfortune that had befallen us, were anxious to console us, and took 
much trouble to find means of drying, warming, and feeding us. The 
Japanese people, who arrived daily from the cities and settlements in a 
crowd, and especially the inhabitants of Miyashima, showed us whatever 
assistance they could: some hastily erected boarded sheds and fence-roofs 
to shelter us from the bad weather; others carried matting, mats, carpets, 
wadded blankets, robes and various footwear; some brought teapots with 
boiling water and tea, others rice, sake, oranges, fish, and eggs; it was 
remarkable that some of the Japanese would take off their kimono and 
right away give them to our quite frozen and shivering sailors. . . . 
Assistance indeed was expressed on the face of the Japanese; a tender, 
comforting smile, sighs, bows of greeting, a sorrowful bearing and other 
acts lightened our grief. 43 

The tidal wave had washed away the restraints of ceremonial pro- 
priety and of traditional prohibitions. Despite the belligerent seclu- 
sion policy, the Japanese were not naturally xenophobic. In the days 
of Laxman, Rezanov, and Golovnin personal kindness had constantly 
shown itself through the facade of official bigotry. But now the restric- 
tions on fraternization came off like a mask and, as there was no longer 
any question that the Russians could live on Japanese land, free 
reign was given to Japanese hospitality. The Russians were moved 
to Heda, where barracks had been erected for the crew. The officers 
were housed in a temple, where, in the words of Baron Nikolai 
Schilling, "the idols had been placed facing the wall, probably so 
that they would not be embarrassed by the sight of Christians in 
their holy places." 44 The Japanese government proclaimed the un- 
invited intruders to be its guests and, though Putiatin insisted that 
a record be kept of Japanese expenditures for ultimate reimburse- 
ment, proceeded to treat the Russians with heretofore unexpressed 
courtesy. This new spirit was carried over into the negotiations, which 
Putiatin resumed after the shipwreck, and both sides were more 
cooperative and conciliatory in approach. 

Once the American treaty had been signed, Putiatin could have 
obtained the identical concessions without effort. The Japanese 
plenipotentiaries did not disclose the terms of the treaty, of course, 
but the Russians obtained a copy by bribing one of the Japanese 
interpreters. 45 It was Putiatin's attempt to open different ports and 
the need for the delineation of the Russo-Japanese frontier that pro- 

43 Makhov, Fregat Diana, 48-49. 44 Schilling, 265. 

45 Ibid., 158. 



tracted his negotiations with Kawaji and Tsutsui. As to the opening 
of other ports, the Japanese willingly added Nagasaki to the list, but, 
though the shipwreck of the Diana dramatized the unprotectedness 
of Shimoda Harbor, Putiatin failed to obtain the opening of Osaka, 
Uraga, or any other port near a political or commercial center of 
the main island. Concerning the boundaries between Russia and 
Japan there was considerable debate, Kawaji insisting at first that 
all the Kuril Islands were Japanese. Finally it was decided to divide 
the Kuril Archipelago between them, but to leave Sakhalin Island 
in common possession, until its disposition could be studied more 
thoroughly. On February 7, 1855, Putiatin, Kawaji, and Tsutsui 
finally signed the first treaty between Japan and Russia at the Cho- 
raku Temple in Shimoda. Prepared in Japanese, Chinese, and Dutch, 
the treaty provided for: (1) continuous peace and friendship between 
the two countries and reciprocal protection of their subjects, (2) the 
recognition of Etorofu and the Kuril Islands to the south as Japanese, 
of Uruppu and the islands to the north as Russian, Sakhalin remain- 
ing in common possession, (3) the opening of Shimoda, Hakodate, 
and Nagasaki to Russian vessels for making repairs and taking on 
supplies, (4) reciprocal aid to and nonconfinement of shipwrecked 
people, (5) barter and purchase of goods in Shimoda and Hakodate, 
(6) the appointment of a Russian consul at Shimoda or Hakodate, 
when thought "indispensable" by the Russian government, (7) re- 
ciprocal extraterritoriality, and (8) most-favored-nation treatment 
of Russia. 46 

The treaty of Shimoda was similar to the American treaty in its 
provisions for the protection of shipwrecked persons and of vessels 
in distress, the opening of certain ports to ships and permission to 
purchase supplies, the appointment of consular agents and most- 
favored-nation treatment. It went beyond the American treaty in 
opening three Japanese ports instead of two and in providing for 
consuls at either Hakodate or Shimoda, in delineating the Russo- 
Japanese boundary, and in providing for reciprocal extraterritori- 
ality. Putiatin had not prevented the planting of American and 
English influence in Japan, but he had assured Russia of a position 
of at least equal importance. 

Now that a treaty between Russia and Japan had been signed at 
last, and copies of it had been exchanged by Putiatin and the pleni- 

46 For the complete text of the treaty and explanatory articles, see Appendix i. 



potentiaries, all that remained to be done was to present the Russian 
copies to the Russian government and to make a full report of the 
negotiation. This was no minor task, for the expedition was stranded 
in Japan and English men-of-war were prowling the seas. The Japa- 
nese had turned down Sir James Sterling's request for permission to 
engage the Russian vessels in Japanese waters, for fear that Japan's 
relations with Russia be compromised, and had heeded Putiatin's 
plea, after the Shimoda disaster, to hide the cannons, which had 
been saved from the Diana. But there was always the danger that 
British and French men-of-war were lying in wait for Putiatin be- 
yond the territorial waters of Japan or that they would violate the 
neutrality of Japan, despite Japanese protests. 47 

Resentful as the Russians would have been of British violation of 
Japanese neutrality, it was apparently only American interference 
that thwarted a similar transgression by themselves. The occasion 
had been the arrival of the French three-master Napoleon III in 
Shimoda toward the end of January, 1855. Putiatin, who had been 
on his way from Heda to Shimoda, when he had learned of it, had 
sent back orders for a surprise night attack on the French whaler. 
Two Russian boats manned by over eighty men armed with cutlasses, 
hatchets, and bayonets hurried to Shimoda, but the vessel had already 
left port, warned, it was said, by the Americans. 48 

The American action was designed to protect the neutral rights of 
Japan; it was not anti-Russian in nature. Commodore Perry himself 
had been anti-Russian to the extent of turning down an offer by 
Putiatin to join forces in their attempt to open Japan and even went 
so far as to predict the inevitability "sooner or later" of war between 
the United States and Russia over eastern Asia. Other Americans did 
not share Perry's outlook, however, and Commander H. A. Adams, 
and Captain W. J. McCluney, who had returned to Shimoda toward 
the end of January 1855 with the ratified Japanese-American treaty, 
extended to the Russians every aid. McCluney even offered to take 
the Russians to Shanghai. This the Russians declined, for fear that 
they would be captured there by the English or French, but they 

47 W. G. Beasley notes that Sterling's letter to the governor of Nagasaki was really 
in the nature of an inquiry rather than of a demand, but that its character was 
changed by the Dutch and Japanese translators. Sterling did desire access to Japanese 
ports "in order to prevent the Russian ships of war and their prizes from making use 
of those ports, to the detriment of the interests of Great Britain and her allies." {Great 
Britain, 117-119.) 

48 Putiatin, "Vsepoddaneishii otchet," 78, 91-92; Putiatin, "Raport," 231; Schilling, 
266; Koga, 314, 318, 349, 367-368; Tokutomi, xx.xm, 162-167. 



asked whether the commander of the American squadron in the 
Pacific could not send a steamer in April to transport them directly 
to Petropavlovsk. It was through Adams also that Putiatin sent to 
St. Petersburg, via Washington and Vienna, copies of the important 
treaty with Japan, which he had concluded, and various reports. The 
American government did not find it possible to send a warship to 
repatriate the Russians; aside from this, however, it promised to give 
every assistance to the Russians at Shimoda. In mid-May of 1855, 
two vessels of Captain John Rodgers' United States Surveying Expe- 
dition entered Shimoda. When the Japanese, eager to keep Americans 
and Russians apart, tried to prevent the John Hancock from pro- 
ceeding to Heda, Rodgers rebuffed the Japanese objections and, 
pointing to the propriety of helping shipwrecked persons in general, 
made it clear that Russia and the United States were on friendly 
terms with each other: "The Russian Emperor is the friend of our 
President, and our President is his friend. The two countries are at 
peace, and in friendship." 49 

While Putiatin was negotiating with the plenipotentiaries, the 
crew of the Diana had begun the construction of a schooner in Heda. 
Putiatin had drawn up the plans for the schooner from the detailed 
description of a yacht in one of the issues of a journal saved from 
the frigate. The Japanese did not object. On the contrary, they put 
Japanese workers at the disposal of the Russians, realizing that this 
was an opportunity for them to learn the techniques of modern ship- 
building. Japanese officials and artisans carefully sketched and re- 
corded every step of the operation. For both the Russians and the 
Japanese the loss of the Diana proved a blessing in disguise. 
As Captain Mizuno Hironori was to write in later years, "these 
workmen were the first to learn the art of occidental shipbuilding'; 
attached eventually to the Shogun's navy they became "the fathers 
of the shipbuilding industry in modern Japan." 50 

49 Allan B. Cole, Yankee Surveyors in the Shogun's Seas, 65-66; Lensen, Russia's 
Japan Expedition, 127-134; Putiatin, "Vsepoddaneishii otchet," 93. 

so Mizuno Hironori, "The Japanese Navy," 417. Oaki Kakichi and his son Kikusa- 
buro were among these workers. After the Restoration of imperial authority in 1868, 
they moved to Tokyo (the "Eastern Capital," new name for Edo), and established 
themselves as shipwrights at Kyobashi. The foreign-style vessels built by them gave 
rise to the so-called Kimizawa-style of construction, named after the district in the 
province of Izu from which they hailed and in which the town of Heda lay. A branch 
workshop which they opened at Ishikawajima in 1880 was the origin of the important 
Ishikawajima Shipbuilding Yard of later years. (Ki Kimura, "Dawn of Modern In- 
dustry in Japan," 491-492; see also Hokkaido-shi, 11, 787-788.) 



When Putiatin returned to Shimoda on February 14, considerable 
progress had been made in the construction of the schooner. Instru- 
ments, building materials, and workmen had been brought into 
Heda and a Russian blacksmith's shop had been constructed. But 
the schooner, named Heda in honor of the place of construction, was 
designed primarily to bring back news to Russia of the events which 
had transpired. It was too small to carry all the crew of the Diana; 
it had space for less than one-eleventh of the complement. Other 
arrangements had to be made for the return of the remaining seamen. 
Putiatin tried to negotiate with the skippers of other ships. The giant 
American clipper Young America could have repatriated everyone, 
but at one point the American crew mutinied against transporting 
the Russians for fear that they themselves be taken prisoner by the 
English or French; and the "crafty Yankee" skipper Mr. Babcock 
took advantage of this to tear up the contract he had already signed 
with Putiatin and to hold out for an exorbitant price. On April 11, 
1855, the first group of Russians — Lieutenant Commander Stepan 
Lesovskii, commander of the Diana, eight officers, and one hundred 
and fifty men — -departed for Kamchatka on the American schooner 
Caroline E. Foote. They arrived safely in Petropavlovsk and con- 
tinued from there on another American vessel, the merchantman 
William Perm, to De-Kastri Bay. About a month later, on May 8, 
Putiatin followed with Poset and thirty-nine others on the Heda. Ten 
days before their departure the French steamer Colbert arrived at 
Shimoda, and the Russians were in constant danger of capture. They 
stole into Petropavlovsk on May 22, as the English and French vessels 
were already gathering at the mouth of the bay. When they learned 
that all Russian ships had been ordered to evacuate the port and to 
seek refuge in De-Kastri Bay, they sailed out again and, under the 
cover of darkness, slipped past the English squadron. Constantly on 
the verge of capture, Putiatin and his shipmates finally reached the 
mouth of the Amur (June 20). At Nikolaevsk they transferred to the 
cutter Nadezhda, leaving instructions that the Heda return to Hako- 
date or Shimoda at the earliest opportunity. After a long and tedious 
trip Putiatin arrived safely in Moscow on November 10, 1855. 

The remainder of the Diana's complement, in fact the majority — 
Lieutenants Aleksandr Musin-Pushkin and Schilling, five fellow offi- 
cers, the doctor, the linguist, the priest and two hundred and seventy- 
five men of lower rank — were not so fortunate. They succeeded in 
chartering the German brig Greta from the supercargo Mr. Liihdorf 


of the Bremen Free State, and set out from Shimoda for Port Aian 
on July 14, 1855, but on August 1, at the northern extremity of 
Sakhalin, the dense fog, which had hidden them from the eyes of 
their enemies, suddenly lifted and they found themselves within 
reach of an English warship, the man-of-war Barracouta. The Rus- 
sians hid in the hold of the brig, and the German captain raised 
the American flag, but the British were not that easily fooled. They 
came aboard and discovered the Russians, given away by some of the 
Chinese members of the brigs crew. In vain the Russians argued 
that they were unarmed persons not participating in military opera- 
tions and that as such, according to international law, they could not 
be regarded as prisoners of war. The Greta was declared a prize and 
its crew and the Russian seamen distributed on English men-of-war. 
Aboard these vessels the Russians saw Hakodate and Nagasaki again, 
but only at a distance because the Japanese did not permit the British 
to enter the inner roadstead. The priest, the doctor, and the wounded 
were put ashore at Aian, which had been occupied by the British; the 
majority of the prisoners were kept aboard the men-of-war, however, 
and finally taken to England, and did not return to Russia until after 
the end of war (1856). 51 

Among this unfortunate group of seamen, whose privations during 
the shipwreck of their frigate had been only a prelude to further 
suffering, there was a Japanese adventurer by the name of Tachibana 
Kosai. A man with a checkered past (running the gamut from ex- 
periences as a warrior and a Nichiren priest to adventures in gam- 
bling, swindling, imprisonment, murder, and women), he had fur- 
tively entered into dealings with Goshkevich, teaching him Japanese 

si A. K. (Aleksandr Kolokoltsov?), "Postroenie shkuny Kheda v Iaponii," 279-298; 
Putiatin, "Vsepoddaneishii otchet," 94-95; Schilling, 266-276, 288-318; Russia, Ministry 
of the Navy, Naval Scientific Section, "O plavanii v vostochnom okeane general- 
adiutanta Putiatina i kontr-admirala Zavoiki" (hereinafter cited as Russia, "O pla- 
vanii"), 174-187. Schilling, Musin-Pushkin, Goshkevich, Tachibana and one hundred 
and five men remained at first on the Barracouta, two officers and forty men being 
placed aboard the Spartan, the remaining officers and men on board the Sybille. At 
Nagasaki H. M. S. Nankin was called upon for transportation to Hong Kong. (J. M. 
Tronson, Personal Narrative of a Voyage to Japan, 139-141) Schilling and some of the 
captives then proceeded to England on the Rotler (?). At Portsmouth they were trans- 
ferred onto the Victory on which Nelson had been killed at the battle of Trafalgar 
and then onto the huge transport Emperatrice, on which they found many other Rus- 
sian prisoners — some forty officers and over fifteen hundred men — among them Gosh- 
kevich. (Schilling, 309-317; Makhov, Fregat Diana, 62-63; Mario Emelio Cosenza, The 
Complete Journal of Townsend Harris, 267 note 325.) For a report by Musin-Pushkin, 
senior officer, to the agent of the Russian-American Company and for the text of the 
imperial ukase of December 18, 1855 making Putiatin a count, see Lensen, Russia's 
Japan Expedition, 139-141. 


and selling him books and even a map of Japan. This was (reason by 
Japanese standards, and when his aetivities came to light, he sought 
refuge with the Russians. There is some divergence in Russian sources 
as to when Taehibana actually did so. Putiatin reported that he came 
aboard the Diana at Hakodate in October of 1854; Schilling and 
Japanese authorities state that he joined the Russians only at Heda, 
where he had been living. It is beyond doubt, however, that Putiatin 
in contrast to Commodore Perry, who refused to take along Yoshida 
Shoin, permitted Taehibana to remain with him. It was not an easy 
task to smuggle Taehibana out of Japan, especially after the ship- 
wreck of the Diana forced the Russians to live on shore, in the midst 
of the inquisitive officialdom. But they disguised him in a black hemp 
wig and a Russian sailor suit and kept him surrounded by members 
of the crew. When Japanese officials posted a guard at the well-illumi- 
nated wharf and shone a lantern into everyone's face at the time of 
embarkation, the Russians slipped Taehibana aboard in a crate. 

A refugee, rather than a castaway or a prisoner, Taehibana was 
still a direct successor to the line of Japanese who, since the end of 
the seventeenth century, had been cast or carried to Russia to play 
a supporting role in the drama of Russian relations with Japan. 
During their British captivity Goshkevich worked with Taehibana 
on the compilation of the first real Japanese-Russian dictionary. 52 
Goshkevich had spent nine years in China with the Orthodox Mission 
in Peking (1839-1848); his study of Chinese no doubt facilitated his 
efforts in Japanese. With Tachibana's tutoring in captivity and after- 
wards, Goshkevich had attained a fair degree of proficiency in the 
language by the time he returned to Hakodate in 1858 as first 
Russian consul to Japan. Taehibana, meanwhile, changed his name 
to Vladimir Iosifovich Yamatov, acquired a Russian family, and 
served variously as official of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 
professor of Japanese at the Imperial University of St. Petersburg, 
and interpreter on Russian men-of-war. 53 

52 Entitled Iaponsko-Russkii slovar 3 and Wa-Ro tsugen hiko, the dictionary was pub- 
lished by the Asian Department of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1857. 
For further detail, see Lensen, Report from Hokkaido, 65-67, 70-72. 

ss Putiatin, "Vsepoddaneishii otchet," 74; Suzuki Riichiro, "Taehibana Kosai," un- 
dated, unpublished manuscript; Bartold, Materialy, 80-95; Biograficheskii slovar' pro- 
fessorov i prepodavatelei imperatorskago S.-Peterburgskago Universiteta, u, 362-363; 
Ramming, "t)ber den Anteil der Russen," 28-29; Watanabe Shujiro, Sekai ni okeru Ni- 
kon jin, 350-360; Schilling, 272; F. A. Brokgauz and I. A. Efron, Entsiklopedicheskii Slo- 
var', xli, 651; Osatake Takeki, Kokusai-ho yori mitaru Bakumatsu gaiko monogatari, 
476-478. For photographs of Taehibana see Lensen, Report from Hokkaido, 68-69. 
Taehibana returned to Japan in 1874. 



The Russian government was well-pleased with the conduct of 
the Russian Japan Expedition. The officers were decorated, and 
officers and men received generous financial compensation for per- 
sonal losses and for "service beyond the line of duty," and Alexander 
II, who had succeeded Nicholas I to the throne, bestowed on Putiatin 
and his descendants the title of count to preserve the memory of his 

More effective in preserving the memory of Putiatin's dealings 
with the Japanese than such an official pronouncement, were the 
personal recollections of members of the expedition. Among these 
the best known are the writings of Goncharov (Fregat Pallada) and 
of Schilling (Vospominaniia Starago Moriaka). Goncharov's work 
became a highly popular book, read especially by the young people 
of Russia; the fame and style of the author insured it a permanent 
place in Russian literature. In view of subsequent Russo-Japanese 
relations this was unfortunate, because Fregat Pallada overshadowed, 
if it did not displace, the less readable, less heroic, but far more 
penetrating narrative of Golovnin. The fact that Goncharov de- 
scribed only the first half of the expedition is not crucial in itself, 
though perhaps his participation in the final phase with its closer 
contact with the Japanese might have modified his views. Goncharov's 
sketches of the Japanese are masterful and the characters vivid and 
alive. But unfortunately it was with mockery and ridicule that Gon- 
charov most frequently achieved his effect. He portrayed the Japanese 
as generally stupid, ludicrous, ugly, childish, and feminine, and 
though he sympathized with the Japanese desire to be left in peace 
he did so patronizingly. His comment on the imminent breakdown 
of Japan's seclusion policy was typical: 

They see that their system of locking themselves in and alienation in 
which alone they sought safety has taught them nothing and only stopped 
their growth. Like a school plot, it has collapsed instantly with the ap- 
pearance of the teacher. They are alone, without help. There is nothing 
for them to do but break out in tears and say: "we are guilty, we are 
children," and like children put themselves under the guidance of elders. 

But who will these elders be? Here are the crafty indefatigable manu- 
facturers, the Americans, and here a handful of Russians: the Russian 
bayonet, although still peaceful and inoffensive, still a guest, has already 
sparkled in the rays of the Japanese sun, and on the Japanese shore the 
command "Forward!" has been heard. Avis an Japon! 

If not we, then the Americans, if not the Americans, then those who 
follow them — whoever it might be, is soon fated to pour into the veins 



of Japan those healthy juices which she has suicidally excreted from her 
body together with her own blood so that she has grown decrepit in weak- 
ness and the gloom of a pitiful childhood.'' 1 

Golovnin had seen beneath the surface of exoticism; Goncharov 
had exploited the quaintness of Japanese manners. This is significant 
because the popularity of Goncharov's writings contributed no doubt 
to the unfortunate failure of the Russians in later years to take the 
Japanese seriously. 



The Treaty of Amity between Russia and Japan, concluded by 
Putiatin on February 7, 1855, provided that ratifications thereof be 
exchanged in Shimoda "not sooner than in nine months or as circum- 
stances will permit." On November 8, 1856, Captain Poset returned 
to Shimoda with the ratified copy of the treaty. He came on the corvet 
Olivutsa, by now "a poor affair, old in age and older in model," 
accompanied by a pretty schooner, built at the Amur River as a gift 
for the Japanese. 

Shortly after his arrival Poset was welcomed by a fellow-West- 
erner — Townsend Harris, the first American consul general and 
minister to Japan. A New York businessman and one-time president 
of the Board of Education, Harris had transferred his commercial 
activities to Southeast Asia and China in the late 1840's and in 1854 
had been appointed consul in Ningpo. Dissatisfied with this position, 
he had actively sought and finally received, through influential 
political friends, appointment as consul general to Japan. Though 
aware of the social banishment and mental isolation, which awaited 
him in Japan, and resolved to meet it, Harris had not been prepared 
for the objections that the Japanese were to raise to his very arrival 
in the autumn of 1856. 55 This Japanese opposition was a reflection 
of internal political problems and also a difference in interpretation 
of Article XI of the treaty with the United States. The treaty stipu- 
lated the appointment of American consuls or agents to reside in 
Shimoda "provided that either of the two governments deem such 
arrangement necessary"; in the Japanese text this clause remained 
without a subject and the decision, as to whether or not such appoint- 

54 Goncharov, Fregat Pallada, 56-57. 

ss Tyler Dennett, Americans in Eastern Asia, 348-352. 



ment was necessary, could be interpreted variously as being the 
prerogative of both the United States and Japan or of only the 
United States or of only Japan. 56 It was with the anticipation of 
companionship and support rather than with fear of competition 
that Harris welcomed Poset. Anglophobic in upbringing — his grand- 
mother had raised him "to tell the truth, fear God, and hate the 
British" — Harris was "much pleased" with the officers on his first 
visit, and remained well-disposed toward them. After entertaining 
several of them for dinner, he recorded in his diary: "I never passed 
a more agreeable evening. The Russians behaved like polished men 
of the world, and at my table they did not merit the charge so often 
brought against them of being hard drinkers. They ate with good 
appetites (and my dinner was both good and abundant), and took 
their wine in moderation. I do think the same number of American 
and English officers would have drunk twice the quantity of wine 
the Russians did." Another time he wrote: "The more I see of the 
Russian officers the more I am pleased with them. They are polished 
in manner and exceedingly well informed. There is scarcely one of 
them that does not speak two or more languages." 57 

Harris was an ailing and lonely man, ostracized by the Japanese, 
and scandalously neglected by his own government, which only a few 
years before had seemed so interested in Japan. "I am a prey of un- 
ceasing anxiety," he confided to his diary (May 5, 1857). "I have not 
heard from Washington since I left the United States, say October 
1855." The companionship of Western gentlemen thus meant a 
great deal to Harris, and, unlike Perry, he did not turn down Rus- 
sian assistance. The Russians loaned Harris barometers and other 
instruments, presented him with a thermometer, offered him as a gift 
one of the boats of the Diana (Harris declined the offer as the boats 
were too heavy for his use), set up the rigging and stays of the Amer- 
ican flagstaff, sent him Hakodate potatoes and spirits of turpentine, 
and, last but not least, offered him the services of the ship's surgeon. 
When Harris and his secretary, Henry C. J. Heusken dined aboard 
the corvet, Poset honored Harris with a salute of thirteen guns — 
rules of the Russian service entitled him to a salute of eleven guns 
only so that he would not receive less than the governor of Shimoda. 

Harris in turn gave the Russians some coffee, a Siamese sarong, 
and Siamese coins, lent them over eighteen hundred Mexican dol- 

se Borton, 45 note 10. 57 Cosenza, 260-270. 



lars, offered the two captains the services of his washman "as the 
Japanese do not know how to wash," sent them valuable books 
about Japan, and, when they were about to leave, gave I hem letters 
of introduction to persons in Macao and Hong Kong and sent his 
"rascally" tailor on board the corvette. 

More important than this exchange of gifts and favors was the 
cooperation between Harris and the Russians in their dealings with 
the Japanese. They shared information about past developments, 
the Russians giving Harris a Dutch copy of their treaty with Japan, 
telling him that within the past eighteen months nearly fifty letters 
had been sent to Russia by the Japanese, and providing him with a 
copy of the letter Poset had written to the Japanese authorities 
concerning Shimoda after the shipwreck of the Diana; while Harris 
gave them copies of the American and Dutch treaties with Japan, 
and the treaty with Siam, which he had concluded at Bangkok. They 
kept each other informed also of their current negotiations with 
the Japanese and often collaborated in the determination of a certain 
policy. For example, Poset agreed to pay the Japanese no more 
than the currency exchange ratio proposed by Harris; if the Jap- 
anese were not satisfied he would place the difference in Harris' 
hands, until the final settlement of the matter. "I am much pleased 
with this," Harris recorded, "as it will greatly strengthen my de- 
mands for the adjustment of the question." 

Neither Perry nor Putiatin had truly opened Japan. It was Town- 
send Harris who did so, with dogged patience and unarmed tenacity, 
occasional threats of the danger to Japan of the impatience of other 
powers, in case she delayed further, being his only weapon. The 
negotiations of Poset with the Japanese contributed to Harris' ulti- 
mate success. "Constant conversations are held by Captain Possiet 
with the Japanese on the subject of finally and fully opening Japan 
to the commerce of the world," Harris wrote on November 14, 1856. 
"All agree that it is only a question of time, and Moriyama Yenosuke 
[Einosuke] goes so far as to place it less than three years distant. 
All these things will help prepare the way for me in my attempt 
to make a treaty which shall at once open Japan (at different dates 
for different ports) to our commerce." When the Japanese tried to 
renege on some of the concessions already made, and asked Poset 
to order that none of his officers sleep on shore, he held his ground 
and firmly claimed the right, within the agreed circumference, "to 
sleep on shore as often as it suited their convenience." When an 



official began to shadow Poset and the secretary of the American 
legation on a walk, Poset ordered the Japanese away and, when he 
returned, seized him and gave him a thorough shaking, so that the 
official, when he was released, "started off running like a deer and 
no more appeared." 58 

Putiatin had recommended to his government that the cannons 
saved from the Diana be given to Japan as a gift in token of Russian 
friendship and of appreciation of Japanese help. On November 22, 
1856 Poset formally transferred these guns to the Japanese and 
helped them in setting up all the necessary fittings for mounting the 
weapons. 59 On December 5, Poset invited Harris to "assist" on the 
occasion of the exchange of ratifications of the Russo-Japanese treaty. 
But as the ceremony was scheduled for a Sunday (December 7), Har- 
ris, who had consistently refused to attend any kind of business on 
that day, could not participate without contradicting all his previous 
acts and losing his reputation for consistency, "a point that cannot 
be too carefully watched in dealing with people like the Japanese." 
As Poset landed on December 7 at about 1 1 a. m., the Olivutsa fired a 
salute and two hours later another salute of twenty-one guns was fired 
in honor of the exchange of ratifications, with the Russian, Amer- 
ican, and Japanese flags flying from the vessel's masts. After the ex- 
change of ratifications, the Diana's neatly-furbished guns, over which 
a double honor guard of Russians and Japanese had been mounted, 
were formally presented to the Japanese. "The commissioners then 
attended the Commodore to the corvette, where they received a 
salute and a dinner, and thus completed the ceremonies of the day." 

On December 13, Harris went aboard the Olivutsa to see the Rus- 
sians off, but the wind was unfavorable and they could not clear the 
harbor. Not feeling well, he bid adieu to all and went on shore. Again 
Harris was alone. "I am only nine days distant from Hongkong, yet 
I am more isolated than any American official in any part of the 
world." He looked forward to the arrival of the Russian consul, hav- 
ing been told that he was very friendly toward Americans and spoke 
English fluently. On May 5, 1857 he recorded: "What can be the 
cause of this prolonged absence of an American man-of-war? Where 

ss Ibid., 262-270, 274, 278-281, 288-290, 357-358. 

59 Putiatin, "Vsepoddaneishii otchet," 94; Cosenza, 276. Harris lists the guns as 
eighteen short 24-pounders, thirty long 24-pounders, and four Paixhan 68-pounders, 
shell guns. For a photograph of some of these guns and an account of their disposition 
in later years, see Lensen, Report from Hokkaido, 59-60; a different photograph may 
be found in Osatake, Kokusai-ho yori, 272-273. 



are the English? Where the French? And, above all, where is the 
Russian consul? He should have been here before this." 00 

Iosif Goshkevich, to whom Harris referred, did not reach Japan 
until the autumn of 1858, and then did not settle in Shimoda, but 
closer to Russia, in Hakodate. Before this, however, Putiatin re- 
visited Japan, including Shimoda. First on September 21, 1857, he 
arrived in Nagasaki. There the Dutch had been negotiating through- 
out the summer in an attempt to open Japan to trade. As the Dutch 
seemed willing to content themselves with limited commerce some- 
what reminiscent of the Deshima trade, conducted through local 
officials and confined to Nagasaki and Hakodate only, Mizuno Tada- 
nori and other Japanese negotiators urged on their government the 
speedy conclusion of a treaty on such lines, to create a precedent 
and a model for treaties demanded by Great Britain and the United 
States. The arrival of Putiatin brought Japanese deliberations to a 
head, and Mizuno, Arao Narimasa, and Iwase Tadanari, who in 
1854 had been among those who had favored an alliance with 
Russia, hastily recommended to the Supreme Council the conclu- 
sion of a treaty with Putiatin also, in the belief that a treaty signed 
by both Holland and Russia would be a more persuasive model in 
their negotiations with other powers. "If an agreement is concluded 
with Russia as well as with Holland and the pattern of trade is thus 
established by two models [rather than one], then even if the English, 
French, and others come subsequently and conduct separate dis- 
cussions, it is not easy to see how they could with propiety find 
occasion for the use of force." The officials did not fail to remind 
the Supreme Council furthermore that Putiatin had been promised 
during his earlier negotiations with Tsutsui and Kawaji that "should 
Japan ever decide to permit trade with foreign countries, Russia 
would be granted it before the other powers." To negotiate with 
the Dutch without negotiating with the Russians would be impolitic, 
especially as once a treaty with the Dutch was concluded, Japan would 
have to notify the Russians anyway. It seemed to the officials, there- 
fore, that the arrival of the Russian warship was "in some degree 

Even if Putiatin does not bring up the question of trade, we should, by 
broaching the subject ourselves, be keeping our word in accordance with 
the promise previously made to him, which would be both proper and 
advisable. And though we realize that we must never open discussion 

60 Cosenza, 264, 285-286, 290, 357-358. 


of the subject ourselves while still not in receipt of your instructions, yet 
if by the nature of Putiatin's demands we are left no choice but to discuss 
it, then we shall handle the negotiations in the manner that seems best 
calculated to serve the Shogunate's future interests. 

Soon after the dispatch of this note, with the content of which he 
was unacquainted, Putiatin departed for China. When he returned 
to Nagasaki on October 11 of the same year, the Japanese officials 
had as yet received no reply from the Shogunate, but they ventured 
to assume that silence meant approval, and on their own signed the 
agreement with the Dutch and a similar one with Putiatin. In a 
letter to Kawaji, who had concluded the first treaty with Putiatin, 
Mizuno promised to negotiate an agreement which "will preserve 
the Shogunate's dignity, cause no difficulties when applied to other 
countries, and avoid inconvenience for the future." 

Nevertheless, as we have said in our official report, it is an act of the 
greatest temerity on our part to decide a matter of such immense im- 
portance on our own responsibility and before receiving the Shogunate's 
instructions. Yet nothing could be worse than to cause the Shogunate 
further difficulties and we have therefore all resolved to take this step even 
though it cost us our lives. If, however, what we have done should prove 
contrary in substance to present government policy, even the sacrifice of 
our lives could not justify us. Since this step is our responsibility alone 
you can, when next you send us orders, send us where you will, regardless 
of our personal fate, whether it be to Putiatin or to the Russian monarch, 
to explain this and to withdraw the agreement. And yet I fear that once 
matters have been mismanaged, though only here in this distant prov- 
ince, all else would be of no avail. 

Since we have formed our resolution on these lines and are acting 
upon it, we ask that if our action seems wrong and contrary to the present 
ideas of the Shogunate, you may accord us the severest treatment, that 
we may serve as a warning to others. We do not ask for any leniency. 
There is but this. Although we said, in the reports sent by previous mail 
concerning the expected arrival of the English and the attitude of Putiatin, 
that we would take no decisive action before receiving Shogunate orders, 
the fact that to this day we have still received no orders might mean 
that the views of the Shogunate do not greatly differ from our own in 
substance. Moreover, before I was sent here, [Kawaji] Saemon-no-jo al- 
lowed me to see a report from which I understood that he has no im- 
mediate objections to such a course. And recently I had word from [Toki] 
Lord of Tamba to the same effect. It is these indications alone that en- 
courage me to hope that we may have a chance of escaping punish- 
ment. 61 

si Beasley, Select Documents, 28-30, 144-149. 



The new treaty between Russia and Japan was concluded on 
October 24, 1857. It was not yet a full-fledged commercial agree- 
ment but a "supplementary treaty" to the Treaty of Shimoda. Signed 
by Putiatin, Mizuno, Arao and Iwase, it enacted Tor the promotion 
of trade and of relations between Russia and Japan on more durable 
foundations" a set of new regulations by which relations between 
Russians and Japanese were to be governed in Hakodate and Naga- 
saki, leaving relations in Shimoda on the same basis as before, until 
it was determined whether Shimoda would or would not be replaced 
by a more sheltered harbor. 

Less than a year later, on July 29, 1858, Townsend Harris suc- 
ceeded in concluding a commercial treaty with Japan that went be- 
yond the "model" that the plenipotentiaries had hoped the supple- 
mentary treaty to be. Putiatin, who was at the time in China, where 
he had concluded a treaty of peace, friendship, commerce, and navi- 
gation (June 13, 1858), hurried to Japan when he learned of Har- 
ris's accomplishment. Although Russia, by virtue of the most-favored- 
nation clause of the Treaty of Shimoda, was entitled to the same con- 
cessions without further negotiation, Putiatin hastened to formalize 
the establishment of commercial relations, spurred on by reports 
that the English and the French were about to come to Japan also. 

The competition of Russia, the United States, and other powers 
to be first in coming to various agreements with the Japanese was 
motivated less by the desire to be first as such, or by fear that the first 
to conclude a treaty would gain inordinate concessions, than by 
the wish to be the one to determine the direction in which future 
relations with Japan would be channeled. As one Russian naval of- 
ficer put it (though not quite accurately): 

In dealing with eastern peoples in general and with the Chinese and 
the Japanese in particular, it is of importance to come earlier than the 
others, and make use of all the advantages or freedom in the negotiations, 
unimpeded by treaties of other nations previously concluded, because 
the people of the East, concluding treaties against their wall, making 
no distinction between nations, not understanding as yet the advantages 
and not seeing the purpose of relations with foreigners, do not agree in 
any way to the slightest deviation from the original conclusion of a treaty, 
though this deviation be in their own interest. 62 

Stopping in Nagasaki for only three days to replenish the coal 
supply, Putiatin headed for Kanagawa Harbor at the gates of the 

6 2 Lieutenant Litke, "Fregat 'Askold' v Iaponii," 11:331. 



capital. Three years earlier his arrival in Nagasaki, not to mention 
the expressed intention of continuing to Edo Bay, would have caused 
alarm and consternation. But now the visit of the frigate Askold, 
his flagship, created no excitement whatsoever. At Shimoda, where 
the vessel cast anchor, on July 26, 1858, side by side with the Amer- 
ican men-of-war Mississsippi and Powhatan, Governor Nakamura 
Tameya, with whom Putiatin had become acquainted during his 
previous negotiations in the city, came aboard and welcomed the 
admiral with extended arms, shouting "Putiatin! Putiatin!" in his 
hoarse voice. When Putiatin made him a present of a group photo- 
graph of the officers of the frigate Pallada (who, with the exception 
of Unkovskii had also officered the Diana) his joy was boundless. 
Other Japanese inquired with great interest after those mariners 
who had not returned, remembered them all by name, repeated Rus- 
sian words, and eagerly learned new ones. Many of them had writ- 
ten Russian alphabets which they knew well. 63 

Nakamura did not protest Putiatin's intention to proceed to the 
capital, but he asked Putiatin to wait in Shimoda three or four days 
to give him time to send word ahead of his coming. To this Putiatin 
agreed, if only to spare Nakamura from trouble with his own gov- 
ernment. On July 30 the Askold sailed across to Kanagawa with 
several Japanese aboard. The same day Japanese plenipotentiaries 
also arrived in Kanagawa from Edo on the side-wheeler Kanko Maru, 
the first Japanese warship of modern times. 64 For almost two weeks 
Putiatin engaged in preliminary talks with the plenipotentiaries on 
board the Askold. When everything was ready for his reception in 
the capital itself, Putiatin joined the procession overland with his 
two secretaries, the commanders of the Askold and of the corvet 
Strelok, which had joined the frigate at Kanagawa, and five officers. 

This was not the first Japanese procession in which the Russians 
had traveled, but it was the first time that they were permitted to 
enter the capital. The Japanese had provided Putiatin and his en- 
tourage with norimono — that of the admiral carried by eight bearers, 
the others by four — but the Russians were too big and too un- 

63 Russia, Ministry of the Navy, Naval Scientific Section, "Pis'mo s fregata 'Askold,' " 
164; Litke, 11: 332. Nakamura Tameya (called incorrectly Nakashura-Dewano-kami 
in the letter) had conferred both with the Russians and the Americans. In 1857 he 
had been promoted from financial examiner to governor of Shimoda. 

64 Litke, 11: 333-334; Mizuno, "The Japanese Navy," 418. The Kanko Maru had been 
obtained by the Japanese from Holland. It was the former Dutch man-of-war Soembing. 
The Shogunate had three other warships of European construction by this time, 



accustomed to this mode of transportation to ride in comfort and 
walked most of the way. The Dutch, who had visited the capital 
periodically, had not been permitted to look out of the litters, much 
less to walk outside in open view of everyone. As the Russians now 
approached Edo, therefore, the populace was even more interested 
in them than they in the populace. Mounting crowds of Japanese 
lined the road on which they passed, touched their clothing, and 
examined their boots, wondering no doubt whether there was truth 
to the rumor that Westerners had no heels. Eventually the crowds 
became so dense and their curiosity so intense that the Russians 
sought refuge in the uncomfortable norimono. On August 12 the 
Russians at last entered the Japanese capital "with that feeling of 
pride and strength which comes from the realization of one's moral 
superiority before ignorance." 65 

The Russians were housed in the Shiba Shimbuku Temple where 
the negotiations, begun on the frigate, were resumed shortly with 
Nagai Naomune, Lord of Gemba, a highly intelligent Japanese states- 
man, who spoke Dutch and English and was familiar with the struc- 
ture of European governments and the habits and customs of "civi- 
lized" nations. On August 19, 1858, the Russo-Japanese Treaty of 
Friendship and Commerce (variously known as the Ansei Treaty or 
the Edo Alliance) was concluded. Signed by Putiatin and Nagai, 
as well as Inoue, Lord of Shinano, Hori, Lord of Oribe, Iwase, Lord 
of Higo, and Tsuda Hanzaburo, its provisions included: the exchange 
and permanent residence of diplomatic and consular agents, the 
opening of Kanagawa, Hyogo, and one other, unspecified, port in 
western Honshu (the first two in addition to Hakodate and Naga- 
saki, the third in place of Shimoda) in 1859, 1863, and i860 re- 
spectively; the admittance of families; permanent residence in the 
open ports; freedom of movement within specified geographical 
limits; the leasing of land; the renting, buying, or building of houses, 
stores, and churches; residence in Edo and Osaka for commercial 
purposes only, as of 1862 and 1863 respectively; trade without gov- 
ernment interference; the determination of import and export tar- 
iffs; the prohibition of traffic in opium; the sale of arms to no one 
but the Japanese government and foreigners; the prohibition of 
rice, wheat, and copper exportation; the acceptance of foreign cur- 
es Inazo Nitobe mentions how even in later years Japanese speculated still whether 
Westerners had heels and whether they needed boots to stand erect. (Reminiscences 
of Childhood, 11-12.) 



rency; extraterritoriality; and reciprocal most-favored-nation treat- 
ment. 66 It was stipulated that the treaty could be revised after 1872, 
but, though the appended tariff was superseded by the convention 
of 1867 and the treaty as a whole was modified by new commercial 
agreements in 1889 and 1895, the main body of the treaty of 1858 
governed relations between Russia and Japan until 1904. 

The negotiation of this basic treaty was crowned by a meeting of 
the Russian envoy with the members of the Supreme Council, his re- 
ception by Tokugawa Keifuku (later known as Iemochi), the young 
heir apparent of Shogun Tokugawa Iesada, and a farewell dinner. 
On August 20 Putiatin returned to Kanagawa, escorted by a colorful 
paper-lantern procession. 

During Putiatin's stay in Edo, those officers, who had accompanied 
him, had seen some exciting sights. They had even obtained printed 
Japanese maps, and, guided by these, had toured the capital and 
had ridden into the surrounding countryside. But those who had 
stayed on the vessels were not permitted by the Japanese to visit 
Kanagawa and had been restricted to Yokohama, a picturesque, 
but as yet practically uninhabited area, separated from Kanagawa 
by a broad plain and a small river. Though treated to tea and fruit 
by the Japanese officials, they had no contact with the inhabitants 
of Japan and found diversion primarily in riding about the Kana- 
gawa roadstead in their boats. It was with impatience, therefore, 
that the men of the Askold and the Strelok awaited Putiatin's return 
and were anxious for the termination of their dull month-long 
anchorage. 67 

On August 22 Putiatin departed for Shanghai on the clipper 
Strelok, while the frigate Askold made preparations to leave for 
Hakodate. The Strelok got only as far as Shimoda, however. Boiler 
damage and the inability to continue to China solely by sail in the face 
of rough seas and strong unfavorable winds, forced her to turn back. 
On his return to Kanagawa on August 24, Putiatin moved aboard the 

66 For the complete text of the treaty, see Appendix m. The treaty follows the pat- 
tern of the American treaty of the same year. There are minor divergences, such as 
American preference for July 4 as opening date for most of the harbors. Article 11 of 
the American treaty is of particular interest. It states that "the President of the 
United States, at the request of the Japanese Government, will act as a friendly mediator 
in such matters of difference as may arise between the Government of Japan and any 
European power" and that "the ships of war of the United States shall render friendly 
aid and assistance to such Japanese vessels as they may meet on high seas, so far as 
can be done without a breach of neutrality." (Malloy, 1, 1001.) 

67Litke, 11: 334-338. 



Askold, and the following day, on August 25, set out for Shanghai 
again. The high seas and stormy weather spelled trouble for the 
frigate as well. A raging typhoon almost sent her to the bottom and 
she limped into Wusung Harbor seriously crippled. An early return 
of the frigate to Russia was now out of the question, and as soon as 
Putiatin had departed on a mail steamer, the Askold sailed back to 
Japan for repairs, driven from the Chinese coast by its high prices 
and bad climate. 68 

As Putiatin headed back to Russia, having himself negotiated the 
original Treaty of Amity, the Supplementary Treaty, and the Treaty 
of Commerce and Navigation, he left behind a good and lasting im- 
pression; the esteem in which he was held in Japan exceeding his rep- 
utation in China, if not in his own country. It was no doubt a re- 
flection of Japanese confidence in Putiatin himself that, particular 
as the Japanese always had been in the verification of credentials, 
they concluded the commercial treaty with Putiatin without his 
being formally empowered to negotiate with them. As one of the 
Russian officers put it, evaluating Putiatin's accomplishments in 
the Far East: 

In such a short time he has brought Russia here so much benefit! Japan 
may perhaps not see him again, but it will not soon forget the name of 
Count Putiatin. The treaty, concluded without formal plenipotence to 
the Japanese government, demonstrates to what extent the admiral had 
been able to inspire the trust and respect of the Japanese toward himself 
during his first stay in this country. 69 

es Pompe van Meerdervoort estimated that repairs in Shanghai would have cost ten 
times as much as in Nagasaki. (J. L. C. Pompe van Meerdervoort, Vijf Jaren in Japan, 
11, 129.) 

^ Litke, 1 1: 338. 



p^~ip^-|HE first Russians to live in Japan after the treaty of 1858 
^1'^ were the men of the Askold, who returned from China to 

X repair the frigate. They ran into bad weather with heavy 
seas and when they finally reached Nagasaki were ill and 
exhausted. The vessel was badly in need of repair and the outbreak 
of a severe epidemic of malignant malaria and dysentery threatened 
to destroy the crew. Had it not been for the rest and recuperation 
which the climate, hospitality, and facilities of Nagasaki offered, 
more than half of the Russians, Dr. Vitovskii estimates, would have 
died and the rest might never have succeeded in returning to Russia. 
As it was, the number of men, who died in Nagasaki during the fol- 
lowing eight months, was so large that "the graveyard there was 
transformed from a Dutch one into a Russian one." 1 

The men of the Askold were well received in Nagasaki and there 
was no delay in permitting the captain to see the governor. The 
successful rehabilitation of the vessel and crew depended on the 
cooperation of the Japanese authorities. It was a great relief, there- 
fore, when the governor showed himself well-disposed toward the 

Here we experienced again and could fully appreciate that tremendous 
influence of Russians in Japan, which was spread and left for us as 
heritage by Count Putiatin, during his twofold stay in Japan [wrote 
Lieutenant Litke]. By his wise orders, just demands and courteous, modest, 
but at the same time firm and persistent conduct, the count won the con- 
fidence and goodwill of the Japanese; all his subordinates tried to imi- 
tate him in this, in so far as possible. There is no doubt, that the governor 
has received orders to treat us as well as possible, because we could not 
even have expected from him more amiableness and desire to help us, 
not to mention the fact, that right after the visit of the captain, he came 
aboard the frigate and even agreed to have dinner with the captain. 
Immediately after the first meeting there was assigned to us one of the 
highest officials of the city, through whom all our demands had to be 
carried out, and from that day on, one can say, there was no delay in any- 
thing, except for the inherent Japanese slowness in whatever they do. 2 

Urgent as the repair of the frigate was, it was obvious that it could 

1 Russia, Ministry of the Navy, Naval Scientific Section, "Russkii beregovoi lazaret 
v Nagasaki," 91-93. 

2 Litke, 11: 343-344. 



not be begun until a majority of the mariners had recovered their 
strength. This was impossible in the cramped living conditions aboard 
ship and the governor assigned a place on land to the sick, ideally situ- 
ated above the noise and dirt of the city, and wide open to the healing 
rays of the sun. Nor were accommodations on land confined to the 
sick. The officers were quartered in the monks' dormitory of Goshin 
Temple (the bonzes being moved to the temple proper) and the 
crew was housed in two barracks, constructed nearby. A level plot 
of land facing the moorage was sold to the Russians to provide them 
with space for a small "admiralty" and a supply dump. In contrast 
to Putiatin's futile efforts to obtain such a place before the opening 
of the country, the Japanese had made a proposition even more 
remarkable in the light of their traditional efforts to isolate all for- 
eigners from intercourse with the populace. They had suggested 
that the officers be put up in private houses in the city itself. But 
the Russians declined this unusual offer, for fear that the separation 
of officers and sailors be inconvenient to the officers if not demoral- 
izing to the men. 3 

At the entrance to the temple grounds the Russians erected a tall 
flagpole, mounted an armed guard, and hoisted the Russian flag, 
which was visible from everywhere on the roadstead. Nothing so 
accentuated the change in Russo-Japanese relations effected by the 
treaties of 1858, as the unopposed landing of Russian artillery — two 
mountain howitzers and a longboat gun. Litke remarked: "The can- 
nons which had been landed, as well as the guns and the carbines — 
without, of course, any hostile objective — gave a more military appear- 
ance and independent position to our small colony in the eyes both of 
the Japanese and of the foreigners; these cannons were the first yet to 
be brought ashore by foreigners without the least protest on the part 
of the city authorities and even without their notification." Nor did 
the Japanese object when the Russians, having posted the howitzers 
before the entrance to the captain's quarters and the longboat gun 
on the large square behind the low stone enclosure which surrounded 
the temple grounds, proceeded to fire the longboat gun daily at noon 
and at sunset. Japanese law still forbade the slaughter of cattle, but 
when the Russians pleaded that "it is extremely difficult for Euro- 
peans to live without meat," the Japanese consented to sell them 
cattle and let it graze and fatten in one part of the compound, pro- 

3 Ibid., 11: 344-346; Russia, "Russkii beregovoi lazaret," 91. 



vided the Russians themselves would do the butchering. Gradually 
the police official, who was posted within the compound to keep 
Russian actions within the limits of Japanese laws, dropped his role 
of overseer and became more of an assistant to the captain. "In a 
word," Litke wrote, "the whole place belonging to the temple and 
surrounded by the enclosure became totally a Russian settlement; 
here there were Russian ways and customs, and the inhabitants were 
governed by Russian laws." When the Russians celebrated the of- 
ficial opening of their "colony" with a banquet for the Japanese 
city authorities and the Dutch (the only other Westerners then liv- 
ing in Nagasaki), the governor and his replacement joined in the 
festivities — the first time, since the seclusion of the country, that a 
Japanese governor had visited foreigners on shore. 

And so two Japanese governors and twenty senior officials of the city 
dined in European style at the place of the Russian captain. When a 
toast was given to the health of the Russian and Japanese emperors, salutes 
were fired from the mountain howitzers, which stood in the small court- 
yard. The dinner lasted for a long time. The guests were gay and parted 
late in the evening, having forgotten, at least outwardly, their old habits 
and customs. Rockets and bengal lights accompanied them all the way to 
the wharf. 4 

The hospitable reception of the men of the Askold in Nagasaki 
was the result of Japan's new policy, stemming from the confidence 
created by the Putiatin expeditions. It was an important step in the 
history of foreign relations, offering Westerners a freedom of action 
to an extent unknown before in modern Japan. Needless to say other 
Westerners watched the Russian activities with attention and not 
without misgivings. The impression received by Sir Rutherford 
Alcock, the British consul general, upon a visit to the Russian settle- 
ment in Nagasaki in June of 1859 is interesting: 

If the Russians, as some have surmised, intended a permanent settlement, 
it could not have been better chosen; but I saw nothing to indicate more 
than what it professed to be — a temporary location for the crew of the 
frigate 'Aschol,' requiring a thorough repair and refit; for which this 
retired and snug bay was admirably adapted. They had been here some 
months, and this had evidently been made the rendezvous for a Commo- 
dore's squadron, consisting of the frigate and half a dozen corvettes and 
gunboats — supposed to be on their way to the Amoor. I dare say, being 
here in force, the Russian had had it pretty much his own way — and 
obtained what supplies he wanted, — with fair words or the strong hand, 

4 Litke, 11: 345-348. 



as the case might require. But, under similar circumstances, the same thing 
would probably have been done by the senior officer of any other foreign 
squadron. 5 

The favorable location of the lazaret, the healthy climate, and 
rest gradually restored the health of the seamen, so that a month and 
a halt after their arrival "even the memory of the epidemic had disap- 
peared."" Not all aspects of Japanese hospitality were propitious, 
however, and soon an alarming number of sailors were bedridden 
with a new disease, "the causes of which were no longer conditions 
aboard ship, but conditions of the very life on shore." More than 
one quarter of the men, who had survived the epidemic unscathed, 
had contracted syphilis. The treatment of this disease with mercury 
proved "quite satisfactory," but it was difficult to effect cures because 
"the sick were running away from the hospital into a near-by brothel, 
and bonzes and other Japanese were bringing alcoholic beverages to 
the hospital." 7 

In November of 1858 repairs were finally begun. There were three 
major projects on which the Russians labored simultaneously: car- 
penter-work aboard the frigate itself, mastwork done near the 
"admiralty," and sloop work executed near the temple. It was an 
enormous task, hindered by the shortage of shipwrights (carpenters 
having to be trained by the few experts from among the crew at large), 
slowness in the delivery of the necessary materials, and the discovery 
of further rot. The Japanese and the Dutch considered the task im- 
possible. Yet by dint of hard work and high morale the men of the 
Askold overcame all the obstacles, and by June of 1859 the frigate 
could be reloaded and rearmed. On June 26, the Askold pulled out 
into the roadstead, fully prepared to undertake any kind of voyage. 8 

The Russians, like the Japanese, enjoy singing, and the seamen 
returned from the day's labors, singing gay sea chanteys. There was a 
great celebration when the clippers Dzhigit and Strelok arrived at 
New Year and for four days the Russians made merry with their 
countrymen. There w^ere those among the new arrivals, who had 
been in Japan before, and marvelled at the change. They visited the 
Japanese corvet Edo and several hours later her captain returned 
the call. "The commander of the Edo," wrote one of the men from 
the Dzhigit, "came in patent leather shoes, chamois-leather gloves 

5 Sir Rutherford Alcock, The Capital of the Tycoon, I, 84. 

(5 Litke, 11: 344. 7 Russia, "Russkii beregovoi lazaret," 92-95. 

sLitke, 12: 156-161; 13: 391. 



and, not finding the captain at home, left his card with one corner 
folded. Recognize here the former Japanese!" 9 On their first visit to 
Japan with Putiatin, the men of the Askold had neither time nor 
opportunity to mingle with the people. But now, as in 1855, when the 
shipwreck of the Diana and the construction of the schooner had 
thrown the Russians and Japanese together, there was an opportunity 
for extensive personal contacts. Nagasaki was large, the legal prohibi- 
tions on intercourse with foreigners had been lifted, and the Russians 
found the Japanese generally well-disposed toward them. 

As their oldest acquaintances, the first who had settled on shore for a 
longer period of time and had entered into the closest relations with them, 
we enjoyed the utmost confidence and respect of the private inhabitants 
of Nagasaki as well as of government personnel. In regard to the former 
we could notice this from the good and polite reception which we con- 
stantly met in whatever private home we happened to enter. In stores we 
bought various things better and cheaper than other foreigners; several 
objects which t,he Japanese were not permitted to sell to foreigners they 
secretly brought to the temple at our request, and we had occasion thus to 
obtain different things [such as swords] for foreign acquaintances who had 
tried in vain to get them in stores. As regards officials, the preference 
which they gave us before all other nations which visited Nagasaki was 
obvious. In all their difficulties with foreigners they usually turned to us 
for advice before reaching a decision. Often, merely to oblige us, they 
satisfied demands which were not in accordance with their laws and 
customs, and in general, by all their actions, showed respect and trust 
[toward us]. 10 

The Japanese acceptance of the Russians and fraternization with 
them was furthered by the noncommercial attitude of the Russians 
in Japan and by general conditions in opened Japan at that time. 
Japanese arguments against the immediate opening of the country 
may or may not have been sincere, but the apprehension that unre- 
stricted foreign trade would not be to the advantage of Japan was 
proved justified. In the decade following the establishment of com- 
mercial relations, foreign merchants, especially the British, drew most 
of the profits, leaving the Japanese viewing with alarm the scarcity 
of goods, rising prices, and the disturbing outflow of gold — a million 
gold pieces being exported from Japan during the last six months of 
1859 alone. 11 As a result, foreign merchants were not popular, al- 
though most of the foreigners, who visited Nagasaki, were merchants. 
In contrast, the Russians were represented exclusively by naval 

»N. K. "Iz Iaponii," 14. 10 Litke, 13: 394. n Borton, 59-60. 



personnel and bureaucratic officials. The misconception, which 
spread among the Japanese, that there was no merchant (lass in 
Russia elevated the Russians in Japanese esteem. Nor was this merely 
a matter of Japanese ignorance, lor there was a definite meeting of 
minds in regard to private commerce, Russian naval officers and 
bureaucrats sharing in lull the well-known disdain of the samurai 
lor merchants, and inveighing frequently against English and Ameri- 
can "shopkeepers.' 1 - In this they were supported by the fact that 
among the traders, who came to Japan in these years, there were 
many adventurous eharacters concerned with nothing but personal 
gain. It is commonly believed that the failure of Russian merchant- 
men to follow up the opening of the country had made the Japanese 
suspect that Russian pleas lor trade had been merely a pretext lor 
more sinister designs. This was not the case in the late 1850's. The 
Japanese had their fill of foreign merchants and were glad rather 
than fearful that the Russian vessels, which frequented Japanese 
ports, were warships rather than merchantmen. 

Russian popularity was enhanced by the unfortunate character of 
the transient foreign community. In the words of Sir Rutherford 
Alcock, "nothing could have been worse than the conduct of the 
body [of foreigners] generally; and the acts of many individuals are 
altogether disgraceful." 13 American sailors who had represented the 
United States in the Far East in the early days of the republic had 
been, according to an American historian, "good, average American- 
born citizens, recruited either from the sea-faring population or from 
the farms," and thus had been "quite unlike the crews of the British 
Indiamen, recruited from the dregs of English cities, which at Canton 
spread terror in their path, creating no end of trouble for the British 
authorities and even imperilling the continuance of trade itself," but 
"the American sailor of the early fifties in China had all the vices of 
the English sailor, plus initiative and liberty." 14 It is not surprising, 
therefore, that the good name of the United States should have been 
compromised by the wanton destruction of property and by assaults 
on shopkeepers on the part of sailors from the men-of-war Mississippi 
and Powhatan) that of Great Britain by the attempt of an Englishman 
to smuggle opium into Japan, the passing of forged assignments in 
payment for Japanese goods by another Englishman and the wound- 

12 See for example K. Skalkovskii, Russkaia torgovlia v Tikhom okeane, 358. 
is p. J. Treat, Diplomatic Relations between the United States and Japan, l, 102 
note 64. 

14 Dennett, 15. 



ing of a Japanese guide during a hunt by a third Englishman; and 
that of France by a French merchant's transportation of his Japanese 
maid to Shanghai. 

Not all Japanese were sophisticated enough to differentiate between 
the Russians and other "barbarians." Thus a Russian ensign, who 
had trespassed into the courtyard of one of the noble houses, was 
promptly ejected by officials within. The Russian was in the wrong, 
such intrusion being expressly prohibited by treaty. Nevertheless his 
captain was aroused by the Japanese action and decided on "swift 
and strict punishment." Normally he made it a point of seeking 
redress through the Japanese authorities, but now he commanded the 
officials, who had ejected the midshipman, to report to him without 
delay and threatened to level their house with gunfire, if they did 
not appear at once. When they came, he deprived them of their 
swords and held them prisoner, until a representative of their master, 
the lord of Chikuzen, had made a public apology in the lord's name 
and had promised that the officials would be punished in accordance 
with Japanese law. Highhanded as this action of the Russian captain 
may have been, it would have been far less provoking had the 
captain not felt called upon to advise the Japanese in another matter 
soon afterward. The secretary of the Dutch commissioner had slapped 
the face of a Japanese official. When the Japanese authorities planned 
to punish this insult in a manner corresponding to the Russian exam- 
ple, the captain informed them that such measures were not taken 
among European nations, that a foreigner could not be confined 
unless his government had been notified beforehand, and that every 
member of an embassay or commissariat was further protected by 
diplomatic immunity, the violation of which would rupture friendly 
relations between the states concerned. When the Japanese referred 
to the measures the captain himself had taken recently, he brushed 
aside their objections and warned that Russia had an alliance with 
the Dutch, that the rulers of the two countries were even related, and 
that, if the Japanese dared so much as touch a single hair of the 
secretary's head, the Russians would demand satisfaction, if need be, 
by open force. The reason for the captain's behavior is reflected in 
the words of Litke: "Here there were neither Hollanders, nor Rus- 
sians, nor Englishmen, in a word, there was not a separate nation; 
there were Europeans who found themselves all without exception 
in alliance with each other for the attainment of a common purpose." 
The double standard applied by the captain was not peculiar; it was 



characteristic of the international law of the West in the age of 
imperialism. Nevertheless there was more unintentional encourage- 
ment to the Japanese pride than the captain could have imagined, 
when he remarked to the Japanese ironically that they could proceed 
as they wished, without concern for the laws and customs of "civi- 
lized" nations, once their shores were studded with guns and protected 
by a powerful fleet, hut that until then, such action would be "care- 

Whatever resentment the captain's double standard had aroused 
was dramatically wiped away by the heroic conduct of the Russian 
crew in helping to save Nagasaki from a sudden conflagration, which 
destroyed most of the Dutch buildings on Deshima. Awakened in the 
middle of the night by the frantic shouts of the monks, the Russians 
rushed to the great fire, which they could see on the other side of the 
bay, bringing their own buckets, mats, axes, and fire pumps. Within 
half an hour the first Russian boat arrived at Deshima. Litke recalled: 

The picture, which we found, was both terrible and funny. Several houses 
had alr